But Sen. Mike Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, must first steer his legislation through the congestion that is the Colorado Legislature.
Senate Bill 18, introduced last Wednesday, the first day of the legislative session, would require drivers on two-lane highways – roads without a passing lane – to pull over “where it is safe and legal to do so” in order to let other drivers pass.
Merrifield said he got the idea for the legislation during frequent drives into the mountains, including the Durango area.
“So many times I found myself getting into the mountain passes and getting stuck behind a slow-moving truck, or even worse, an RV, and the driver just goes blindly along, either not caring, or not noticing that they backed up a huge amount of cars behind him,” Merrifield said.
It’s a common complaint for drivers in mountain communities. Highways can be tight, with long stretches of curving roadway that makes it unsafe to pass slower drivers. Merrifield said he witnessed a situation where as many as 17 cars were trailing a slow-moving vehicle.
“Somebody tried to pass on a double yellow line, and of course he barely missed getting hit,” Merrifield recalled. “It is a matter of safety. People will eventually get fed up and pass, even though they shouldn’t.”
The Colorado Springs lawmaker believes he can solve the issue by simply prohibiting drivers from impeding the flow of more than five motor vehicles following behind.
So far, the legislation does not outline penalties, though Merrifield said he is working on developing fines to be included with the proposal.
A policy director for the Colorado Department of Transportation was unavailable to comment on Monday because of the holiday. A spokesman for Colorado State Patrol did not return a request for comment left by The Durango Herald.
Colorado already has a “move right” law for divided highways with a 65 mph or higher speed limit. The left lane can be used for passing only when traffic is light enough, though few drivers comply with the law.
Merrifield said two-lane highway legislation was attempted in the Legislature about a decade ago. He said State Patrol supported the measure at the time, though the bill ultimately died.
“I’m calling it the ‘Colorado Common Courtesy Bill,’” Merrifield said. “You would think people would have the common courtesy to look in the rearview to say, ‘I backed up all these cars.’”