Wyoming chain law changes advance to governor

| 3/9/2009

A bill on its way to the governor’s desk in Wyoming would specify how truck drivers must equip tires with chains. It includes hefty fines for violations. Gov. Dave Freudenthal already signed two other bills of interest into law.

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 determines that travel is sufficiently hazardous due to snow, ice, or other conditions.

The state’s Senate narrowly approved a bill that would modify the rule to specifically address where truck drivers must install chains on their tires. By a vote of 16-14, lawmakers voted to advance a bill to the governor that also increases fines for drivers who do not put chains on their vehicles when it is required. House lawmakers already approved it by unanimous consent.

Sponsored by Rep. Stan Blake, D-Green River, the bill – HB85 – specifies that tire chains must be installed to at least two of the drive tires 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.

With the chain rules bill on its way to the governor’s desk, Freudenthal already signed a bill into law that increases the fines for failing to observe road closures. Previously SF59, the new rule sets up standards for allowing vehicles to use closed roads.

Failure to observe signs, warnings or other markers would result in as much as $750 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 will be granted on a case-by-case basis, unless otherwise determined by WYDOT or the Highway Patrol.

The new rule takes effect July 1.

Another new law authorizes WYDOT to investigate lighting to make snowplows more visible on the road. SF76 allows for lighting of a “conspicuous” color.

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.