It’s snowtime! Have you cleaned your trailer roof?
December 8, 2010
December 8, 2010
I was seated at the same table as a bunch of truck insurance people during lunch at the OTA convention, and the issue of ice and snow on trailer roofs came up. One man acknowledged this is a big time problem in terms of claims and public safety, while another thought there doesn’t seem to be a solution, or if there is no one’s found it yet.
If we have a mild winter here in southern Ontario, I think a lot of transport companies just ignore the problem. They might clean off the odd roof during the season, or hire a couple of acrobats to do so. As drivers pulling out of a snowy dock, we’ve all watched plumes blanketing the roads and the drivers behind us. It’s actually quite a beautiful sight (from the rearview mirror). What’s really cool is braking on a tight turn and shucking off cascading sheets of ice into a ditch with the accompanying sound effects.
Snow cleaning machines can do some of the job. The best one appears to be the Yeti, and among the most expensive, but even it won’t take off ice, which is a bigger problem than snow when it comes to public safety. Ice from trailer roofs can kill or seriously injure, and it’s happened too often.
Some companies provide platforms where drivers can get tethered and shovel off the roofs. Others don’t do anything and just hope the snow will go away by itself, or no one will notice, or at least not make a report. A few supply mechanical snow clearing devices, and those get mixed results. It’s also necessary to provide some means to clear away the snow that accumulates on the ground from the cleaning, too.
Putting cleaning stations at inspection stations, as they do in the Maritimes, doesn’t make sense either. The snow-laden vehicle has to take the highway to get to the scales in the first place. Part of the responsibility should at least be the shipper’s. If the trailer has sat in a dock all weekend because they requested a dropped trailer, that snow then belongs to the customer and they should be obligated to clear it. But try telling that to a customer and sending them a bill!
And when is it all right to pull a snow-covered trailer? Surely it’s OK to move one that has an inch or two of light powder. The problem is we drivers can’t even see what’s up there, and even if we could, few would risk life and limb to scale a trailer with a shovel. Until someone figures out how to solve this problem we’ll just keep dropping snow and ice on the roads. So have a nice winter. Let it not snow, not snow, not snow.
Harry Rudolfs has worked as a dishwasher, apprentice mechanic, editor, trucker, foreign correspondent and taxi driver. He's written hundreds of articles for North American and European journals and newspapers, including features for the Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Life and CBC radio.
With over 30 years experience in the trucking industry he's hauled cars, steel, lumber, chemicals, auto parts and general freight as well as B-trains. He holds an honours BA in creative writing and humanities, summa cum laude. All posts by Harry Rudolfs