Photo by Matt Stensland
A line of cars travels east Tuesday afternoon on U.S. Highway 40 on Rabbit Ears Pass. Proposed legislation would require slower moving vehicles to pull to the side for faster moving vehicles.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Steamboat Springs Slow drivers who fail to pull over and let faster vehicles pass could be penalized under a proposal that passed the state House on Monday by a 37-27 margin.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Michael Merrifield, D-Manitou Springs, would amend state law to require any slow-moving vehicle on a state highway with a line of five or more vehicles behind it to pull over at the first safe opportunity. The measure also would have to be approved by the state Senate and Gov. Bill Ritter to go into effect.
Denver resident Chris Bowes, who spends plenty of time on the road, said the change would be welcome. Bowes has a business selling heavy equipment parts and was in Steamboat Springs on Tuesday delivering grader blades to the city.
"I do a lot of traveling, and there's a lot of semis and 18-wheelers, especially on (U.S.) Highway 40 between here and Kremmling," Bowes said. "Not everyone has the courtesy to pull over when they should."
If the bill passes and is enforced, Bowes said, the obligation for slower traffic to pull over when they can and let faster vehicles pass would make the road a bit safer for everyone.
"People aren't going to be so apt to pass a semi moving 10 miles under the speed limit," Bowes said. "They're not going to be trying to pass the truck and the four cars behind it in one go."
Merrifield was in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.
The minimum speed regulation section of the Colorado Revised Statues already forbids driving so slowly that it impedes traffic. House Bill 1042 specifically stipulates that a slow-moving vehicle with five cars behind it must pull off the road at the first safe opportunity.
"It offers some discretion for the officer, but it nails down what impeding truly means," said Sgt. John Hahn, a spokesman for the Colorado State Patrol.
CSP has done some research on HB 1042 but has not taken an official stance, Hahn said.
"We just want to see where it shakes out and what the final version looks like," Hahn said.
An amendment to the original bill exempts commercial vehicles, unless the driver can find a safe place to pull over that is at least 12 feet wide.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has not taken an official stance on HB 1042, spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said.