Skip to main content
Delaware Senate Democrats

Sen. Sturgeon sponsors bill aimed at stopping dangerous winter hazard

March 21, 2019

Warm weather might be just around the corner but Sen. Laura Sturgeon, D-Brandywine, remains focused on the travel dangers Delawareans needlessly face after a winter storm.

The first bill ever sponsored by the freshman Brandywine Democrat seeks to put an end to the dangerous missiles that come flying off of cars and trucks when drivers refuse to clear their vehicles of ice and snow.

“The seconds you save by not clearing your vehicle can end up costing the people around you,” Sen. Sturgeon said. “Brushing off your vehicle can prevent serious crashes, injury and property damage. It’s just the right thing to do.”

Yet, unlike most states, Delaware law currently does not require people to clear their vehicles of icy debris. It does not give law enforcement the authority to stop drivers who refuse to do so.

That’s what Sen. Sturgeon and 15 of her fellow lawmakers – 13 Democrats and four Republicans – want to change.

Introduced Wednesday, Senate Bill 58 would allow police officers to stop snow covered vehicles and issue tickets when warranted with penalties ranging from $25 to $75.

After an incident in which snow or ice has dislodged from a moving vehicle and caused property damage or personal injury, a private driver could be face of fine between $200 and $1,000, while a commercial driver could be hit with a fine between $500 and $1,500.

Once passed, SB 58 would establish the same fine structure as those imposed by neighboring states New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The legislation is backed by AAA Mid-Atlantic.

“Anyone who drives I-95 or Route 1 during snowy weather has probably had to dodge snow or ice flying off the vehicle in front of them,” said AAA spokesman Ken Grant.  “Driving with accumulated snow or ice on top of a vehicle is a clear danger to other roadway users”.

Similar legislation passed the state Senate in 2016 and 2017 but never received a final vote in the House. This year, a quarter of Delaware’s state representatives have signed on as co-sponsors.

“I think we all would prefer it if people would just clear their vehicles,” said Sen. David Sokola, D-Newark, one of three prime sponsors in the Senate. “But we also need to give our police officers the discretion they need to keep drivers safe.”