Colorado chain-up bill passes House

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A Colorado bill increasing the fine for chain law violations, supported by the state trucking association but opposed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, overwhelming passed the House and now has been sent to a Senate transportation committee.

The bill was born out of frustration with lanes blocked by truck accidents caused by not using chains, especially on Interstate 70. House members passed the bill 56-9 on April 2. The bill increases fines for truckers not using chains when chain laws are in effect from $116 to $500. It also increases the penalty for blocking a lane because of an accident caused by not using required chains from $500 to $1,000.

Language deleted from the bill would have subtracted four points from Colorado CDL holders for chain violations. The Colorado Motor Carriers Association plans to testify in favor of HB 1229, now that its concerns have been satisfied, said association spokesman Greg Fulton. The association also will push for more enforcement of chain laws on I-70. “It’s a good compromise,” Fulton said. “It addresses the safety and welfare issues. We’ve set the table for compliance.”

The Colorado Department of Transportation will commit $2.5 million to improving spaces to chain up trucks to make them more like a work zone; they will be lighted and more spacious, with signs alerting drivers they are entering a chain-up area and to slow down. Courtesy patrols will be increased to help with chaining problems, such as losing traction; the state patrol also has agreed to require trucks entering Colorado’s mountains to bring chains with them, and the state DOT has agreed to improve its decision-making process for declaring chaining laws in effect.

OOIDA’s website called the bill a “revenue-generating legislation” with fines that are too heavy. Colorado roads are not wide enough to provide safe chain-up areas, and the state DOT has provided no schedule of when improvements of chain-up areas even will begin, OOIDA said.