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It’s now law in Pennsylvania: Clear those cars of snow and ice

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Rachel Cravotta doesn’t think a new state law governing snow-covered and icy vehicles will change the way she prepares her Mercedes GLS 550 on snowy mornings this winter.

“I have a pretty big SUV — even if I gave it my all, I don’t think I could reach the whole roof,” said Cravota, a Pittsburgh native who lives in Swisshelm Park. “Who has time when you’re rushing in the morning to clean the snow off their entire car?”

Under the new measure, which Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law this summer, Cravota and others could face fines if they leave snow or ice on their vehicles more than 24 hours after a heavy snowfall.

Called Christine’s Law, its sponsor, state Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, hopes to prevent tragedies like that of Christine Lamberta Palmer Township woman killed on Christmas Day 2005 when a large chunk of ice broke loose from a passing truck and smashed into her windshield.

“The law will require you to remove snow and ice from your vehicle and will allow police the discretion to stop you if they believe you are a highway hazard with snow and ice accumulated on your vehicle or tractor-trailer Boscola said. “I’m so excited for the Lamberts — they’ve pushed so hard for this.”

Violating Christine’s Law will result in a fine of $50 per violation, but the fines escalate dramatically — ranging from $200 to a $1,500 fine per violation — when snow or ice falls from a moving vehicle and hits another vehicle or pedestrian, causing death or serious injury. bodily injury.

Contrary to initial media reports, it does not appear that police can prosecute Pennsylvanians for having a snow-covered car in their driveway or on the street more than 24 hours after a snowfall.

“A driver of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle operated on a highway of this community shall use reasonable efforts to remove accumulated ice or snow from the motor vehicle or motor vehicle, including the hood, trunk, and roof of the motor vehicle means,” State Police Trooper Rocco S. Gagliardi told the Tribune-Review.

“Snow and ice can be a big danger to other drivers,” he said. “We ask that you please take a few extra minutes and clear the snow from your vehicle so that nothing can drift, over or onto another vehicle while it is in motion.” By taking these extra precautions, we’re leading to safer driving for everyone.”

This may be more of a problem for a state trooper patrolling Pennsylvania’s highways than for an ordinary cop working in a city setting.

Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Amanda Mueller said snow removal from vehicles “is not something that has been a problem here in the past.”

“Of course, safety is always our number one priority and the police will address this issue if necessary,” Mueller said.

The promise of enforcement doesn’t offer much comfort to Kravota, the driver of the Swisshelm Park SUV.

“I don’t see the police enforcing sidewalk clearing, and there are so many people who don’t,” Cravota said. “To be honest: do you really think it will be enforced? I don’t think you’re going to stop any other car.

Justin Vellucci is a Tribune-Review contributor. Justin can be reached at jvellucci@triblive.com.

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