Vail Daily editorial: Pass the tire tread bill
Our form of government has a lot to recommend it — particularly compared to every other kind of government — but legislative chambers can sometimes be the places good ideas go to die.
With the calendar winding down on the 2015 session of the Colorado General Assembly, people are worried about the fate of a very sensible bill that could help ease bad-weather travel on Interstate 70 through the mountains. That bill started life as House Bill 1773, co-sponsored in that chamber by Eagle County’s representative, Diane Mitsch Bush, a Steamboat Springs Democrat, and Bob Rankin, a Republican from Carbondale.
In brief, the bill would require all motorists traveling I-70 between roughly Morrison and Dotsero to have adequate tires on their vehicles from Nov. 1 to May 1. The law would, in essence, apply the same requirements for foul-weather gear to both cars and heavy trucks along that stretch of highway.
The bill doesn’t establish checkpoints, nor does it make driving on inadequate tires a “primary” offense, which means motorists can’t be stopped just for bald tires (which would be nigh-on impossible to determine on a moving vehicle, anyway).
What the bill does is add further penalties if a motorist with inadequate tires causes an accident that closes the interstate — something that happens fairly frequently in bad weather. Those who do have inadequate tires have the option of using chains or other traction devices. One such device, a fabric “tire sock,” is far less expensive than new tires, easy to install and seems to work quite well.
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The bill passed the Colorado House of Representatives, but it’s now stalled in the Colorado Senate. If it doesn’t pass on second reading, perhaps as soon as Friday, then the bill is likely dead for this session.
This newspaper is joining the Vail Town Council, the Eagle County commissioners, the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association and other groups in urging the Senate to pass this bill. We’re particularly urging yes votes from the state senators whose districts include I-70 in the mountains: Democrat Kerry Donovan of Vail and Republicans Ray Scott and Randy Baumgardner.
Dale Bugby, a member of the Vail Town Council and an active member of the state’s hotel and lodging association, said his understanding is that there’s a bit of opposition in the Senate, as well as an amendment or two that could gum up the bill with financial obligations.
On the first topic, reasonable people can disagree, although opposition to this bill seems odd from this vantage point.
On the second point, part of the allure of the original House bill was the negligible cost of the thing.
There’s no one-shot solution to help ease weather-related accidents on I-70. But this bill can help. It imposes a relatively light burden on motorists. For the price of a walk-up lift ticket at Copper Mountain, you can buy a set of traction socks and probably have beer money left over. It’s an even lighter burden on the state treasury.
We urge the Colorado Senate to keep things simple and pass this bill.