Proposed Legislation Would Prohibit Grass Clippings from Roadways to Prevent Motorcycle Accidents

| May 19, 2019

HARRISBURG, Pa. – In recognition of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46) plans to introduce legislation that would help prevent one of the most dangerous and preventable hazards for motorcyclists: grass clippings on roadways.

A release from Bartolotta’s office notes that grass clippings can cause the surface of the roadway to become extremely slippery, and a number of motorcycle accidents and deaths have been attributed to grass clippings.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), motorcyclists are about 28 times more likely than people in passenger cars to die in a traffic crash, accounting for 14% of all traffic-related fatalities.

The NHTSA website notes that grass clippings on the road present a serious hazard for motorcyclists, causing a serious loss of traction for a motorcycle as they are comprised of 70% water and can be slippery.

According to Venango County resident Steve Savory, grass on the roadway is definitely a problem.

Savory is a member of Friends of Christian and ABATE Clarion County.

“We were on a ride last year and there was a huge amount of grass as we came around a curve, and it was wet and was just like grease on the road,” Savory told exploreVenango.com.

“We already have to deal with what Mother Nature dishes out, with things like leaves in the road. People cutting their grass into the road just creates even more of a hazard.”

John Pacsai, owner of Infusion Night Club and Grille, in Clarion, explained, “People just don’t realize how dangerous it is.”

Pacsai is also a member of Friends of Christian, ABATE Clarion County, and Friends of the Flag

Both Savory and Pacsai noted that in the case of organized rides – like the Poker Runs and other events so often organized for fundraising in our area – the danger can increase, as grass clippings in the road can lead to chain reaction crashes.

“If you have a group of 50 people riding, and one person in the front goes down, that can quickly turn into a chain reaction,” said Pacsai.

Savory noted, “I’ve been in close calls. I’ve come over the crest of a hill and hit grass on the road. If there had been oncoming traffic, someone would have gone down, because there was nowhere else to go but into the other lane or off the road.”

According to the NHTSA, grass in the roadway is considered a contributing factor in about 20% of motorcycle accidents, and it is already illegal in some municipalities, such as the City of York in the eastern part of the state. Approaching the issue on a state level isn’t unheard of, either. The state of Illinois already has a Litter Control Act which makes it illegal for people to blow grass cuttings in the roads.

“Keep your yard in your yard,” Savory added.

Pacsai noted, “It really doesn’t take that much time or effort to mow the first few strips back into the lawn.

“Let’s make sure what we’re doing is safe for everyone.”

In a recent release, Senator Bartolotta stated: “Prohibiting grass clippings from roadways is an easy, commonsense solution to a deadly problem.

“Landowners have a right to manage and maintain their property as they see fit, but they also have a responsibility to ensure they do not create a lethal hazard for other motorists on public roadways by being negligent.”

Bartolotta’s bill would treat offenses related to grass clippings on roadways in the same way as waste paper, sweepings, ashes, household waste, glass, metal, refuse and other rubbish deposited on roads. Fines would range from $50.00 to $300.00 for a first offense and $300.00 to $1,000.00 for a subsequent offense. In either case, offenders would also be required to have the clippings removed from the road.


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