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May 20, 2024

SIGNED! Bipartisan Bills to Make Mountain Roads Safer

CMVs represent about 7 percent of traffic, but account for more than 52 percent of traffic incidents; and wrecks involving CMVs take nearly twice as long to clear as passenger incidents

GYPSUM, CO – Today, Governor Jared Polis signed into law bipartisan legislation that would improve safety and keep traffic flowing on Colorado’s mountain highways and better enforce commercial driving infractions.

SB24-100, sponsored by Senator Dylan Roberts, D-Frisco, and Representative Elizabeth Velasco, D-Glenwood Springs, improves safety by allowing the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to establish a zone with double speeding fines for commercial drivers in Glenwood Canyon. The bill also bans commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) from driving in the left lane on I-70 in several key stretches where crashes are most frequent and disruptive, except to lawfully pass.

“The last few winters on our mountain highways have been particularly challenging with way too many avoidable closures as the result of unprepared CMV drivers,” Roberts said. “We can’t control the weather, but avoidable crashes, spin-outs, and other accidents have unnecessarily closed our highways and hurt our economy by delaying the delivery of goods, negatively impacting tourism and the businesses in the mountains that rely on visitors. By increasing common sense safety measures, these bipartisan bills will make I-70 and mountain passes safer.”

“My community of Glenwood Springs experiences the most accidents of the entire stretch of I-70, and road closures due to these accidents can have negative consequences on our businesses and the safety of our residents,” said Velasco. “When I-70 is closed, employees can’t make it to work and first responders can’t address an emergency in a timely manner. The goal of our new law is to reduce accidents on I-70 so we can keep our roads open and communities safe.”

SB24-100 further expands locations where CDOT may require traction equipment from parts of I-70 to key mountainous stretches of other state and U.S. highways, and to enable this, directs CDOT to study additional locations for chain-up stations. It also gives port of entry officers the powers of a peace officer when enforcing highway closures while 

HB24-1135, sponsored by Representative Marc Snyder, D-Manitou Springs, and Roberts, aims to increase road safety by keeping unqualified commercial drivers off the road. First, it upgrades the severity of 3 offenses from traffic infraction to class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense: operating a CMV without a commercial driver license; operating a commercial motor vehicle while under 21 years of age; or driving a commercial vehicle with more than one license. It also adds legal accountability for employers who knowingly employ underage or unlicensed drivers. 

“Coloradans deserve to drive on safe roads, and our law will create stronger guardrails to help prevent traffic accidents,” said Snyder. “This new law will help ensure that people have the proper qualifications to operate commercial vehicles so Coloradans can have peace of mind while on our roads.” 

Additionally, during the 2024 legislative interim, the bill requires the Transportation Legislation Review Committee to analyze the enforcement of impaired driving offenses, including situations involving a driver that refuses to take or complete a blood or breath test as required by law.

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