Colorado Senate weakens truck-like tire chain rule for personal vehicles

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/17/2015

An effort at the Colorado statehouse that appears to be derailed called for all personal vehicles traveling on the mountain corridor of Interstate 70 to carry tire chains or snow tires during certain times of the year.

The state’s chain law now applies to every state and federal highway, including interstates, under certain weather conditions. For noncommercial vehicles, there are two levels of chain law: “chains or adequate snow tires required” or “chains only.”

The Senate voted 23-12 on Tuesday, April 14, to approve an amended bill to study a possible requirement for motorists to use chains or snow tires.

As introduced, the House-approved bill called for setting up a pilot program to require noncommercial vehicles to carry chains, have four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, or tires with 1/8-inch tread depth while driving on I-70 between Morrison and Dotsero from Nov. 1 to May 15.

Violators would face the same fine as truck drivers. Motorists could face $100 fines when they are pulled over for traffic infractions along the 126-mile stretch. Incidents that result in lane closures on the affected portion of interstate could result in $500 fines.

Sen. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora, said if the state’s traction requirements are good enough for large trucks a similar rule should be good enough for other vehicles.

“We’ve said this is true for truckers. Why should it not also be true for (motorists)?” Todd asked her fellow Senators during floor discussion.

Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, said he doubted police would be able to enforce the rule as it was approved by the House.

Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, was more critical of the House-approved tire rule during recent discussion.

“Folks, I don’t know how to say this in a polite way, but this is really a dumb bill and a dumb idea,” Neville said.

Baumgardner said the change to study the issue will bring more people to the table to decide what, if anything, should be done moving forward.

The bill, HB1173, now heads back to the House for consideration of changes. If the two chambers cannot agree on wording in the bill, it could head to a conference committee made up of select House and Senate members.

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