Letter: What’s the point of traction laws if CDOT, state patrol don’t enforce them?
January 15, 2018
I am writing this letter in hopes that someone, anyone, at the Colorado Department of Transportation will see these comments and think long and hard about the management of Interstate 70 during storms. On Friday, Jan. 12, all the traffic issues and closures were created by CDOT's complete mismanagement of the laws created to keep traffic moving. Here are just a few of the failures:
1. Chan laws — While the chain laws were in effect, several trucks proceeded up Vail Pass and to the Eisenhower Tunnel without chains. This despite the Vail Police Department and the Colorado State Patrol stationed to enforce the chain law. What good does it do for the Vail PD to sit at the beginning of the chain station? Truckers simply go to the front of the station, wait until no one is looking, and then proceed. The UPS and FedEx trucks are the biggest and most flagrant offenders. To continue to allow one negligent trucker to close to entire road is unacceptable.
2. Passenger Vehicle Traction Law — Great idea, no enforcement at all, at least until after the vehicle has wrecked or closed the road. When posting on the overhead signs along I-70, why doesn't the sign say what it should: All-wheel drive, 4-wheel drive, snow tires or chains required. I challenge CDOT to find one person from out of state who has any idea what "Passenger Vehicle Traction Law" means. I would bet most people in Denver don't know what it means, either. This is a public safety issue, and all of us driving I-70 are put at risk.
3. Hazmat closures — Simply ridiculous to close the tunnel for a couple of trucks. Closing the tunnel created long backups both east- and westbound. While the cars are sitting on the inclines, ice forms under the cars. Once the tunnel opens, cars begin to spin out or simply get stuck. This goes back to my first two points: If the chain law and traction law were actually enforced, then closing the tunnel would not be an issue.
4. Rental cars — This is probably the biggest issue and the cause of most of the wrecks and closures. Any rental cars without AWD or 4WD were in violation of the traction law. There were hundreds on the road yesterday. People renting cars in Denver are not given any information regarding road and weather conditions and are not told that the Toyota Corolla they are renting will actually be violating the traction law if driven to the mountains.
The overhead signs when leaving the Denver International Airport should clearly state the traction law and weather and road conditions. The rental car companies have refused to do anything other than rent cars and have refused to even put a notice in the cars explaining the laws regarding travel to the mountains. It was these same companies who lobbied hard to shoot down the proposed snow tire law. If you want a Mustang convertible in a blizzard, then you get one.
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All of these issues are easily solved by doing two simple things: Advise and enforce.
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