CONCORD, N.H. (AP) The people who drive city and town
snowplows in New Hampshire say they are being treated unfairly
by state law.
Under the law, if someone hits them as they clear snow, the
incident goes on their personal driving record and can raise
their private insurance rates. Police officers, firefighters
and ambulance drivers do not face the same situation.
"I think it stinks," said Bob Bennett, Belmonts
public works director whose 20-year safety record was recently
jeopardized when a car crashed into the town-owned plow truck.
"We work in hazardous conditions. The roads are slippery
and people are driving way too fast. Im the one thats
going to suffer."
Chum Cleverly, Bows public works director, has been
trying to get the law changed, but so far, his idea isnt
getting any traction. Hes gone to the Safety Department
and Insurance Commission, to no avail. Hes also written
to congressmen and state reps, but hasnt gotten a serious
response from anyone.
"Our job is as much public safety as the fire or police
departments," Cleverly said. "And if were
not out there making sure the roads are passable, the ambulance
and police arent going to get around."
State Safety Commissioner Richard Flynn says the drivers
should ask the Legislature to change the law.
In an e-mail to Cleverly last December, Earl Sweeney, the
assistant Department of Safety commissioner, said the department
was not considering changing the rules, the Concord Monitor
"For one thing, once this was started where would
it go from there?" Sweeney wrote.
"Would it begin with state and local plow truck drivers,
then expand to include those contract plows who contract to
the state and to the cities and towns and who could also argue
that they have no choice but to go out in the storms; then
to those who plow private driveways, under the same rationale.
"At the present time it does not appear feasible to make
Cleverly said private plow contractors are not required to
be out in the thick of a storm, and they can recoup their
costs by passing them on to their customers, something town
drivers cannot do.
"These guys (town and state plow-truck drivers) are
forced to work in extreme, inclement weather," he said.
"We want to have fault assigned. And if its ours,
were more than willing to take responsibility, financially
and morally. But if its not, and were driving
someone elses vehicle, I dont think its
fair to see their insurance go up."
Roger Sevigny, the state insurance commissioner, said even
if the law stays the same, shopping for an insurance company
could help. "Every insurance company that develops rates
develops them differently," he said. "As long as
its not a violation of the rating laws, companies can
charge you for being in an accident. . . . We dont set