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Colorado bill proposes tighter rules for commercial vehicles

A newly introduced bipartisan bill in Colorado is set to tighten regulations for commercial vehicles, aiming to enhance road safety and reduce highway closures, especially during winter months.

Driving the news: Colorado State Senators Dylan Roberts and Perry Will, along with Representatives Elizabeth Velasco and Rick Taggart, have put forward the Commercial Vehicle Highway Safety Measures bill (SB24-100).

What's new: The proposed legislation includes the expansion of the state's chain law, higher fines for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers who speed, and prohibits big rigs from using the left lane except for overtaking slower vehicles.

  • Effective September 1 through May 31 annually, commercial vehicles must carry chains on interstates and highways west of I-25, including the mountainous regions of I-70.
  • Increased speeding fines and the institution of high-speed enforcement zones in sections of I-70 known for CMV traffic violations are also part of the plan.
  • Trucks would be restricted to the right lane on a designated stretch of I-70 except for when passing vehicles moving below the speed limit.
  • Port of Entry (POE) officers would be granted broader authority to enforce highway closures and winter traction device regulations.

The bill also mandates a study to ascertain the feasibility of adding more chain-up stations, which could be funded by the increased CMV speeding fines.

Why it matters: The move comes in response to frequent chain violations, commercial vehicle wrecks, and the economic impact of highway closures experienced in Colorado during winter.

Roberts' remarks: "This is a safety issue that I want to make sure my constituents are safe, but also an economic issue because, you know, when the highway closes ... that costs our local economies money," Sen. Dylan Roberts explained.

Context: The bill addresses concerns that many commercial drivers, especially those from warmer states, are ill-prepared for Colorado's winter driving conditions and lack the necessary equipment.

The bill is currently assigned to the Senate Transportation & Energy Committee. If enacted, it could bring significant changes to the way commercial drivers navigate Colorado's treacherous winter roads.

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