Colorado bill would ticket slowpokes

| 1/21/2009

Truckers spend their workdays traversing all types of roadways throughout the nation. Many times a day slow-moving vehicles ahead complicate the task of getting to the intended destination.

A Colorado House panel approved a bill from Rep. Mike Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, intended to keep slowpokes from blocking traffic and to allow truckers and other drivers to stay up to speed.

Colorado law now prohibits vehicles from impeding the normal traffic flow. However, it’s a judgment call by law enforcement whether to issue a ticket.

The House Transportation and Energy Committee voted 8-2 to advance a bill – HB1042 – to the House floor that would make impeding the flow of five or more vehicles following immediately behind a mandatory offense.

The 2004 law was intended to cut down on road rage and ease traffic woes on state highways by encouraging drivers to use the left lane for passing only.

Dubbed the “Courtesy Bill,” Merrifield’s measure would require slow-moving vehicles to drive in the right-hand lane or pull off the road and let the trailing vehicles pass. Pulling off the road would be mandatory only where it can be accomplished safely and lawfully.

Violators would face $50 fines. Three points also would be added to offenders’ licenses.

Critics of the bill question its practicality. They say it would not be safe for slow-moving vehicles to pull off to the roadside, let vehicles pass, and then try to merge back on the road. Others expressed concern about accomplishing the maneuver on roadways leading to ski resorts.

Advocates for the rule change say that in addition to helping curb road rage, it would serve to reduce risky maneuvers from impatient drivers.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Colorado in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor