A Colorado state lawmaker is renewing his effort to boost
fines for truck drivers who fail to chain up during bad weather. Lawmakers
cited a lack of safe places for truckers to pull over as one reason for not
advancing the previous effort.
Existing Colorado law fines truckers $100 for failure to put
on snow chains. If an unchained truck results in a blocked highway the fine
jumps to $500. Drivers don't have pointes added to their commercial driver's
license for the offense.
Rep. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, said he plans to reintroduce
a new chain law bill Thursday, March 15, that would increase the base fine to
$500. The fine would double to $1,000 if trucks not in compliance blocked a
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 said the need to address the issue is highlighted because
portions of Interstate 70 had to be closed 15 times in Colorado this winter because
of chainless trucks.
Gibbs' previous attempt was sidelined last month in the
House Transportation and Energy Committee. Among the concerns cited by
lawmakers was that the bill proposed to add four points to violators commercial
driver's licenses if they blocked traffic.
Lawmakers also were concerned there is a lack of adequate
space on roadways for drivers to install chains. In addition, too few
designated chain-up sites along routes was cited as a problem for truckers.
Colorado State Patrol Capt. Ron Prater said during a hearing
on the bill that 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.
Rep. Dianne Primavera, D-Broomfield, said it is unfair to
place the blame squarely on the shoulders of truckers.
"It seems to me like this is everybody's problem," Primavera
told the Daily News. "To try and say
it's just the truckers' problem, it's hard for me to do at this point in time."
To help alleviate some of the problem, CDOT initially
pledged $1.2 million to improve chain-up sites and signage to reduce speed near
the pull-offs. Agency officials recently said they would try to boost that
figure to as much as $2.5 million, the Vail
Daily News reported.
Gibbs said he is hopeful the state spending will make his
proposal more palatable to lawmakers. He is expected to add a provision to the
bill that would allow vendors to rent or sell chains on both sides of the
- By Keith Goble,
state legislative editor