Colorado bill would boost penalties for unchained trucks

| 2/8/2007

A bill in the Colorado House would boost the fines for truck drivers who fail to chain up when required. Points also would be added to violators' licenses.

Existing Colorado law fines truckers $100, plus $13 in surcharges, for failure to put on snow chains. If an unchained truck results in a blocked highway the fine jumps to $500, plus $61 in surcharges. Drivers don't have points added to their commercial driver's licenses for the offense.

Sponsored by Rep. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, the bill would increase the base fine of $100 to $500. Four points also would be tacked onto violators' CDLs.

Supporters say the steeper penalties are needed because truckers and their companies simply write off the current fine as "the cost of doing business." They say the need to address the issue is highlighted because portions of Interstate 70 closed 15 times this winter due to chainless trucks.

Opponents say failure to comply with the rule can be attributed to a lack of adequate space on roadways for drivers to install chains - not to mention the safety concerns. Too few designated chain-up sites along routes also was cited as a problem for truckers.

Colorado State Patrol Capt. Ron Prater said he has noticed the state's designated chain areas can't always handle the truck traffic that uses the I-70 corridor. He said the shortage of spots along the corridor is so bad that it's not uncommon to see truck drivers pulled off anywhere along the route to put on or take off their chains, the Summit Daily News reported.

The bill - HB1229 - is in the House Transportation & Energy Committee.