Ask a Trooper: Requirement to remove snow, ice from vehicles?
“ASK A TROOPER” by Sgt. Jesse Grabow of the Minnesota State Patrol
Question: Recently I have noticed quite a few semi-trucks on the freeway with snow and ice blowing off the top of the trailers, sometimes in sheets. I can only imagine what would happen if a sheet came off and struck an unsuspecting vehicle while traveling on the roadway. Is there a requirement to remove the snow/ice prior to traveling with the trailer?
Answer: This type of incident would fall under the “Unsecured load” statute. The law says that no vehicle shall be moved on a roadway, unless the load is securely covered to prevent any leaking, blowing, shifting or dropping.
Ice or any type of debris that comes off a vehicle could be considered an unsecured load. Drivers should be concerned about civil liability if they fail to take reasonable steps to remove snow and ice that result in property damage or injuries from a crash.
When traveling behind a vehicle with an unsecured load or ice/snow falling from it, give yourself plenty of room behind the vehicle to avoid any obstacles that may fall off and strike your vehicle. If possible, go around or pass the vehicle when it is safe to do so.
If you are involved in this type of incident where your vehicle is damaged and/or crashes as a result from falling debris, try to get a license plate number and report it to law enforcement and your insurance company.
Please take the time to remove all snow, ice and items that may come off your vehicle so it does not become a hazardous situation on the roadway.
Also, clear all frost, snow and ice from the windows so the driver is able to see from all angles.
Below are photos (click for larger version) of the damage that can result when ice falls onto a vehicle while in motion. This happened in Mahtomedi last month. The motorist suffered minor injuries after a large ice chunk flew off a tractor-trailer and struck the vehicle following it.
A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at [email protected].