DENVER – Legislation that would have required slow-moving traffic on two-lane mountain highways to pull over has crashed and died.
Senate Bill 18 would have required drivers on two-lane highways – roads without a passing lane – to pull over “where it is safe and legal to do so” to let other drivers pass.
The bill would have prohibited drivers from impeding the flow of more than five motor vehicles following behind.
“If any of you who have been in this experience and have been irritated or concerned for the safety of yourself or others, I would encourage you to vote ‘yes,’” said Sen. Mike Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, who sponsored the bill.
But concerns were raised by drivers of larger vehicles.
The Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee killed the bill on a 3-2 party-line vote, with Republicans opposing the measure.
The Colorado Motor Carriers Association, which represents the trucking industry, pointed out that the bill really targets slow-moving trucks and recreational vehicles, which often cause the congestion.
Pulling over for a truck is not as easy as it is for a car, said Greg Fulton, president of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association. He said many trucks are so large that they couldn’t even successfully pull onto a narrow shoulder to let cars pass.
“When we’re pulling over, we’re still going to be in the lane of traffic,” Fulton said.
He also pointed out that truckers are largely focused on the road ahead, especially when dealing with winding mountain roads. Drivers might not even realize that they’re holding up traffic.
Fulton added that Colorado is a growing state with widespread roadway infrastructure problems. He said a better solution would be more climbing and passing lanes, for which there are few financial resources available.
And as a tourist state, Colorado faces unique issues.
“We have a lot of people who don’t feel as comfortable as we do on our highways, especially the mountain passes,” Fulton said. “Those people, quite honestly, are driving slower because they feel safer.”