Colorado gets stiffer penalties for chain violations

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Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter signed a bill May 29 that will increase the fine for chain law violations. The bill, which was supported by the state trucking association, was born out of frustration with lanes blocked by truck accidents caused by failure to use chains, especially on Interstate 70.

The Senate passed the bill, 33-1, April 25, after House members approved it, 56-9, on April 2. The bill increases fines, from $116 to $500, for truckers not using chains when chain laws are in effect. It also increases the penalty, from $500 to $1,000, for blocking a lane because of an accident caused by not using required chains.

Language deleted from the bill would have subtracted four points from Colorado CDL holders for chain violations. The Colorado Motor Carriers Association’s concerns with the bill have been satisfied, says association spokesman Greg Fulton. The association also will push for more enforcement of chain laws on I-70. “It’s a good compromise,” Fulton says. “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.