Snow and sheets of ice on trucks with a tarpaulin roof

Jun 2018

The Human Factor

During the winter months, car drivers should pay special attention to trucks with a tarpaulin roof because snow and sheets of ice can build up on these overnight or during extended periods of downtime. If they become loose or fall while the vehicle is moving, this could entail severe consequences for vehicles behind the truck: a large sheet of ice can easily smash the windshield of a car, resulting in an accident. To prevent such a situation from ever occurring, truck drivers are legally required to remove hazardous roof loads from their vehicles before starting a journey. Various options are available:

• In the case of an empty truck or trailer with a tarpaulin structure, the driver can use a long broom handle or other similar object to push the roof from inside the trailer so that any snow or sheets of ice fall off. One problem with this approach is that the roof may not be cleared completely because the driver cannot actually see onto the roof.

• At company premises or truck stops, high scaffolding is set up, which can easily be accessed by truck drivers. Drivers can therefore climb the scaffolding and use a snow shovel or other similar tool to remove snow or ice from their vehicle roof.

• Some manufacturers offer ladders specially designed for trucks, which drivers can use to clear snow and ice from tarpaulin roofs. These ladders can be folded compactly and also easily stowed and transported in the truck itself. Folded out and secured to the truck, these ladders enable drivers to easily clear snow from vehicle roofs.

• An inflatable air hose between the roof tarpaulin and roof bow (RSAB = RoofSafetyAirBag) turns a flat tarpaulin roof into a saddle roof, allowing water to run off the roof whenever the vehicle is stationary for an extended period of time or overnight. This prevents any sheets of ice or snow forming on the roof. RSAB can be installed by some trailer manufacturers ex-works. The system can also be retrofitted.

• Various suppliers in America have developed “snow-removal machines.” Different models are available: a model fixed to one location, a portable model or an extra-wide model. The machine can be activated manually or automatically. Snow is thrown from the roof laterally via a pushing implement. Like the “snow-removal machine,” a “snow-blowing machine” is also available, which blows snow off using blowers installed on the side of the vehicle. The problem with both of these machines is that the snow simply ends up on the ground next to the vehicle.

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