This winter has been pretty exciting for truckers, with a couple of blizzards hitting the Midwest and Northeast in late 2022. This new year is already active, with more snow in the forecast making roads slick and trailer roofs heavy with snow. The question is how to remove that white stuff without getting hurt.
The ol’ “drive it at 90 and let it fly off” does not work anymore. Most snow-covered states have removal laws with fines and penalties now. For example, Pennsylvania has passed Christine’s Law, named for Christine Lambert of Palmer Township, Pennsylvania.
She passed away on Christmas Day of 2005 when a large piece of ice dislodged from a passing box truck and crashed through her windshield. Drivers now have 24 hours after snowfall or icing to remove it from the cabs of their trucks and trailers. The bill also sets a $50 fine per offense, and a fine of $200 to $1,500 per offense when snow or ice falls from a moving vehicle and hits another vehicle or pedestrian causing death or serious injury.
Drivers and fleets have snow removal tools at their disposal
There are new tools out on the market to remove snow from trailer roofs. Some options are modified from home snow removal tools and others are permanent emplacements that drivers can use simply by driving through them.
Let’s begin with the simplest human-powered option: the trailer strap. Low-tech, but effective. If you are a team driver, you might have used this method.
Just take a four or six-inch strap, throw it over the top of the trailer, and have your co-driver help you pull it up and down the length of the trailer. It might take a few runs back and forth, but not only is it effective, but great exercise as well.
The next method is adapted from a tool used to pull snow off of your home roof. A trailer rake is basically a snow rake on an angled pole made to reach over the top of the trailer and pull snow off.
A few pulls with this tool and your trailer top will be cleared off and safe for travel. But after a major snowstorm or blizzard, you need something a bit more robust to clear off the ton of snow on the roof.
Permanent snow removal scoops are there for the big snow piles
When a trucker arrives at a trailer and sees a few feet of snow piled on top, the snow rake is not even thought about. You need power equipment and permanent snow scoops to clear off that much snow.
A drive-through snow removal station is an emplacement more commonly seen in the trailer yards in the upper mid-west and northeastern states. Drivers slowly pull their trucks and trailers through the station where a guide, either an operator or some built-in device, lifts a blade or brush just above the surface of the trailer to clear the debris.
What’s left is a small layer of snow that can blow off in a few feet and not miles as typically seen on dash cameras.
Sometimes you need to call in a contractor if a station is not available
If all else fails, call in a professional. While this hurts the wallet the most, a respectful driver or fleet operator will be more than willing to call a contractor.
These businesses are usually around close by, with either a lift to send someone up with a snow shovel or a telehandler with a snow removal blade. While you might argue the cost as being a king’s ransom, it will be far less than the fines and lawsuits a chunk of snow falling off the trailer will bring.