Chain law bill moves to the Senate |

Chain law bill moves to the Senate

Nicole Formosa
Vail, CO Colorado

DENVER A measure that would raise the fines for commercial truck drivers who disobey the chain law during wintry driving conditions is on its way to the state Senate.

House Bill 1229 passed the House floor on third reading Monday on a 56-9 vote.

“I am confident that this bill will create a safer environment for everyone on the road by increasing personal accountability, improving existing chain-up areas and enforcing the law,” said Rep. Dan Gibbs, the Silverthorne Democrat who represents Eagle County.

The measure would increase the penalty from $116 to $500 for those who don’t chain up when the chain law is in effect, or from $500 to $1,000 if the driver’s truck blocks a lane of traffic.

It includes an amendment that excludes tow truck drivers from the law, and another amendment that would allow private vendors to sell or rent chains on I-70 for drivers who aren’t prepared for the conditions.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has said that parts of the interstate were closed for 116 hours last year due to chainless trucks spinning out, and has estimated an economic loss of $800,000 per hour that the road is closed on a typical weekend.

The bill’s current state is the result of weeks of meetings between Gibbs, the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, the Colorado State Patrol and the Colorado Department of Transportation.

In the end, the state contributed $2.47 million toward addressing some of the safety concerns that kept the Motor Carriers Association from supporting the bill, like a lack of well-lit chain up areas that are adequately protected from traffic on I-70.

Gibbs likened the process to running a 50-mile ultra marathon race, “where you feel many emotions and experience highs and lows during the race.”

“You feel great at mile 10, but at mile 45 you feel lousy and not sure if you can finish because your body is hurting so bad, but at mile 48 you know that you will finish and start feeling better, and at mile 50 you are feeling great because you’ve completed the race,” said Gibbs, who is in his first term.

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