VIRGINIA, USA — A week after heavy snowfall created a mess along I-95 and stranded some drivers for as long as 24 hours, a Virginia state senator has proposed a bill he believes could help prevent a similar backup from happening again.
With the General Assembly set to begin a new session on Wednesday, Senator Dave Marsden (D-Fairfax County) will put forward a bill that would require tractor-trailers to drive in the right lane of highways when heavy snow is falling.
Marsden serves as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and said he began work on the proposal after seeing the disastrous traffic along I-95 last week.
"As soon as I heard there were numerous tractor-trailer jackknifes, it occurred to me right away that when precipitation is first coming down is the greatest opportunity for slippage," he said on Tuesday. "The danger with trucks is that when they're accelerating or decelerating or changing lanes or passing, that’s when they’re at the most risk.”
The nightmare along the interstate led to a traffic backup of around 40 miles and stranded thousands of drivers.
Sen. Marsden told WUSA9 that no "perfect solution" exists to prevent a similar backup during snow again, but his proposal could help lead to fewer jackknifed tractor-trailers during winter storms.
"What I can do is offer up legislation for debate that says in the future, what can we do as lawmakers to provide a safer environment?” he said. "I think it would reassure the public that those of us in the legislature who set the rules of the road are paying attention to this.”
Marsden added that a $100 traffic violation ticket could be added to the proposal for drivers who don't follow the rule. However, he believed other drivers could call the trucking company to report poor driving.
So far, the senator said he has received positive feedback about the bill but said at least one concern has been raised.
"If trucks created a wall of trucks in the right-hand lane it would be difficult for passenger cars to get in the right-hand lane to make an exit," Marsden said.
Moving forward, he believed his proposal made logical sense to make roads safer during snowstorms.
"We have the rules of turning your lights on and windshield wipers when it’s raining," Marsden said. "Why not right lanes for trucks?"