Higher fines for truckers fail
DENVER ” State lawmakers on Tuesday rejected a proposal to crack down on truckers who don’t chain their tires in snowy weather, saying the state needs to provide more safe places for them to pull over and prepare during storms.
With ski resorts and mountain towns losing an estimated $800,000 an hour in business when jackknifed trucks block Interstate 70, Rep. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, proposed raising the fine for breaking the state chain law from $100 to $500 and adding four points to a trucker’s license. Violators would only get two points if they paid within 20 days.
Under the proposal, the fine for blocking a lane of traffic would have remained at $500, but drivers would also have been penalized with four points. Currently no points are assessed to drivers who ignore tire chain mandates.
The House Transportation Committee voted against sending Gibbs’ measure (House Bill 1229) on to the full House, but there weren’t enough votes to permanently kill it either. That means there’s still a chance it could be brought back later.
Rep. Dianne Primavera, D-Broomfield, said it wasn’t fair to only blame truckers for the problems on I-70. She said the state isn’t providing enough places for truckers to put chains on and said chains can break if trucks end up driving on dry roads.
“It seems like this is everybody’s problem,” she said.
Rep. Buffie McFayden, D-Pueblo West, who voted against the proposal, encouraged the state transportation department and State Patrol to work with authorities to increase enforcement right now, instead of waiting for a bill to pass.
Gibbs said he would work with truckers and the transportation department, which may have some funding to put up more warning signs for truckers and find more chain-up locations. But he refused McFayden’s suggestion to pull the bill, saying people in his district wanted a vote on this issue.
Gibbs said mountain communities fear that out-of-state visitors who are stuck in traffic on the way to ski resorts may decide to head to Utah or Lake Tahoe next time. He also said closures also make it harder for ambulances to reach people in trouble during times when medical helicopters are grounded because of poor visibility.