With winter soon approaching, a concern for many drivers on the road will be the risk of being hit with falling accumulated snow or ice from other vehicles. Such issue was of significant concern among West Virginia drivers in 2010, when as a result of a number of fatalities involving drivers bein
g hit in the windshield from falling snow and ice from other vehicles and trucks, the State Legislature sought to make into law regulations that all snow and ice be removed from vehicles before their operation on streets and highways. Known as H.B. 4526, this particular legislation also provided law enforcement authorities the discretion to stop and give a citation to individuals that failed to adhere to such removal regulations, stating that “a person who violates the provisions of this subsection may be stopped on a street or highway by a law-enforcement officer who believes the accumulated ice or snow may pose a threat to persons or property.”
Additionally, the legislation made it an automatic misdemeanor offense for violation, including very strict fines, penalties, points, and even the suspension of one’s driving privileges. Despite such efforts, such legislation was never passed in West Virginia, mostly because of concerns that such would impede economic activity and commerce in the state, which relies heavily upon trucking-based revenue.
H.B. 4526 Revisited
Lawmakers in West Virginia are again considering the passage of 4526, again highlighting the various public safety concerns associated with the dangers of accumulated snow and ice on trucks and vehicles. A recent report suggests that the courts in West Virginia are already making judgements against drivers that cause automobile accidents as a result of failing to clear off accumulated snow and ice from their vehicles. In 99% of such cases, the courts have determined that the failure to do so constituted a “road hazard” to which the driver was deemed to have been responsible. The significance of this is that the although there are no specific laws prohibiting the driving of automobiles with accumulated snow or ice, the courts have tended to rule as a matter of law and have already determined in the majority of cases, that it constitutes a “road hazard” to which the negligent driver is responsible. As a result, although West Virginia’s ice “missile” legislations remains pending, from the perspective of civil liability, drivers need to be cognizant of the risks involved when operating a motor vehicle covered in accumulated ice and snow. More importantly, West Virginia drivers need to seriously weigh the risks and benefits of driving under such conditions, and knowing the scope of liability involved when choosing to not take the time to clean one’s car of ice and snow.
Let Our Attorneys Help You Today
If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident as a result of accumulated snow or ice on a vehicle, you need attorneys with experience in such personal injury matters. Colombo Law understands the legal implications of such issues and is prepared to assert such claims on your behalf.