Wyoming bills address chain laws, distracted driving

| 2/19/2009

A bill that is halfway through the Wyoming Legislature would specify how truck drivers must equip tires with chains. This bill and another that addresses driver distractions carry hefty fines.

Wyoming law now mandates that travel on highways may be restricted to all-wheel-drive vehicles or motor vehicles equipped with tire chains or adequate snow tires when the superintendent or his authorized representative determine that travel is sufficiently hazardous because of snow, ice or other conditions.

The state’s House unanimously approved a bill that would modify the rule to specifically address what tires must chained when the mandate is in effect. Sponsored by Rep. Stan Blake, D-Green River, the bill also increases fines for drivers who do not put chains on their vehicles when it is required.

The bill specifies that tire chains must be installed on at least two of the drive wheels at opposite ends of the same drive axle when the vehicle is required to be equipped with tire chains.

Violators would face up to $250 fines. If violations result in the closure of all lanes in one or both directions, fines would increase to as much as $750.

Blake’s bill – HB85 – has moved to the Senate Highways and Military Affairs Committee.

Also on the move, the Senate voted 22-8 to advance a bill to the House that would increase the fines for failing to observe road closures. The measure – SF59 – also would set up standards for allowing vehicles to use closed roads.

Failure to observe signs, warnings or other markers would result in as much as $650 fines and/or up to 30 days in jail. State law now allows for $100 fines.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation or Highway Patrol could allow vehicles to proceed if drivers are traveling to a destination beyond the closure point, if either agency determines there is no dangerous or hazardous condition preventing passage, or if drivers agree to any conditions or requirements for traveling on the closed portion of the highway.

Passage would be granted on a case-by-case basis, unless otherwise determined by WYDOT or the Highway Patrol.

The bill has since advanced from the House Highways and Military Affairs Committee to the full House.

Another bill drawing consideration in Wyoming addresses the often debated topic of whether to rein in multitasking drivers.

The Senate voted 18-12 to advance to the House a bill that would ban the use of text messaging devices while at the wheel. Of particular interest for truckers, an exception would be made for CBs.

Violators would face fines of $200 and/or 20 days in jail. The bill – SF63 – is in the House Judiciary Committee.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.