How do you deal with trailer snow and ice accumulation?

It’s that time of year again, the first significant snow fall has created havoc on Ontario roads and already the local new stations have begun complaining about snow and ice blowing off the roofs of trailers. It’s an age-old problem and one without a simple solution – at least not one that I’m aware of.
Due to the nature of the trucking industry, it’s nearly impossible to prevent snow and ice from accumulating on the roofs of trailers. Short of parking indoors every night – and we all know that’s not a realistic option for most truckers – what’s a guy to do?
The Workers Compensation Board doesn’t want drivers climbing up onto their trailers to clear the roof of snow and ice. That’s a recipe for a workplace accident if there ever was one.
Some companies have developed snow removal programs. Our on-road editor, Harry Rudolfs, tells me Purolator hires a crew that shows up with ropes, ladder and shovels and clears off the trailers before they hit the road. But in Purolator’s case, most of its trailers report to the terminal on a daily basis. That’s not the case for most long-haul fleets.
Apparently, there are some scales in Nova Scotia that installed snow removal devices last year. I’m told they work like a giant scraper to clear trailer roofs. A neat idea, but I’ve yet to see them in person so I couldn’t tell you how effective they are. I’d love to hear from anyone who has used these systems. Do they perform as-advertised?
Heated trailer roofs? Now there’s an idea. But I imagine it would be cost-prohibitive to implement and there are likely some engineering challenges as well. That’s all I’ve got, folks. Maybe you have a solution of your own you’d be willing to share? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • I have a system that could work. It is thin film radiant heaters attached to the underside of the roof and then insulated . It would have a snow sensor that will only operate the system when it is snowing to prevent accumulation. Probably best run with an inverter to reduce amperage (12-120 volts) and only 25 watts per square foot. Could also be plugged in if power is available.

  • Robot 2000 Inc. is a Canadian establish company which have an snow removal device that is patent in Canada and the U.S. It as been servicing the truck industry since the year 2000. The device can easily remove up to 2 feet of snow and up to 1 1/2 inch of ice in less then 30 seconds the beauty is that it is fully automated.


  • we have a system to be installed on trucks using compressed air, in Austria, up and running
    we are looking to export this to US and Canada and need partner firm or contacts to develop this in the N.America market.
    current cost per unit is about 1000
    please contact me if you are interested.
    kevin archer (UK)

    • Hello Mr. Archer,

      We are in Canada and looking into a compressed air solution to remove snow from trailers. Please contact me by e mail.


      • Dear Stephen

        I am also looking into compressed air snow removal, I am interested in talking to anyone involved in this area, please contact me by email.

      • Dear Stephen Johnson,

        I would like to draw your attention to our product ( designed for prevention of ice formation. Currently only availble within Europe, however arrangements may be made to export oversees.

    • Dear Mr Archer

      I am interested in hearing more about your compressed air snow removal system, could you send me some details please.

      • Dear Mike Tocknell,

        I would like to draw your attention to our product ( designed for prevention of ice formation. Currently only availble within Europe, however arrangements may be made to export oversees.

  • attn James Menzies
    Hi, – in your article on snow and ice fallng from the tops of tractor trailers you mentioned the systems in Nova Scotia. They are manufactured by Scraper Systems in Pennsylvania and we are the Canadian distributors. We have more than 200 installed across North America and we believe it is the most effective, economical and long lasting system available.
    We still see many instances of dangerous loads coming unstuck – and it is only a matter of time till someone dies. The industry maintains it is the driver’s responsibility to clear the roof and OSHA prohibits them from climbing on top. In addition, manual cleaning takes a lot of time. Take a look at
    Jon Denman 902.820.3300

  • This certainly is a very real concern that is not limited only to the trucking companies, workers compensation and motorists in general. The Insurance industry in general deals with an unknown number of claims every winter. Which ultimately costs the consumer in their annual premiums.
    At Leevin Design and Fabrication we have come up with what has become known as the “Avalanche” snow removal system. Not only is it one of the most economical systems on the market today, it is manufactured right here in Canada.
    Visit for more information.

  • Has anybody tried:
    -strips of ice rakes ( triangular shape, not pegs) installed on rooftops? -understanding you have to be under 13′ 6″ total height

    Domed or convex shaped black plastic rooftop panels

    maybe 2′ wide sheets of expanded metal grating across the roofs

  • There are definitely options out there to facilitate snow removal from trailers, buses and vans. Our company has 2 solutions, depending on the type of vehicles in the fleet, that have been in the market for 10 years. We hold the Canadian patent for this type of system and we are the only distributors but we travel all over Canada and the United States. Please feel free to check out our website and email if you have any questions. We have units all over including the Nova Scotia as well as the West coast. You can also find us at every FedEx new build site north of the Mason Dixon line in the USA.