IN THE north-east of the US, the postman will not deliver your mail unless your path and driveway are clear of snow.
It is an offence for a business not to keep the outside of its premises ice-free, and the owner is liable if someone slips and cracks their head because the footpath has not been cleared.
Plans by the government to introduce a US-style system here will not only help keep town and city centres open for business, they will also help avoid a repeat of last winter when hospital accident departments were forced to cope with hundreds of people injured because of slips, trips and falls.
Allowing community groups to help de-ice roads will help people living in rural areas to continue with their daily lives, while allowing local authorities to focus on keeping the national routes open and allowing the delivery of goods to continue.
Under the new arrangements, community groups could be given de-icers and the necessary equipment to do the job themselves. This would help people access the vulnerable easier.
This would be particularly useful in counties with a high number of roads such as Donegal, Mayo and Cork where local councils simply do not have the resources to keep everyone happy.