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                 Pride In Trucks

Vail Daily column: Be safe around chain-up areas

Commercial vehicles operating on Interstate 70 between mile marker 133 in Dotsero and mile marker 259 in Morrison are required to carry chains between Sept. 1 and May 31. The Colorado Department of Transportation makes the determination on when to put the chain law into effect based on road and weather conditions. Failure to carry chains when operating a commercial motor vehicle is punishable by law and carries a fine of $69. If the driver of a commercial vehicle fails to chain up when required, it is a fine of $579 and if the subsequent unchained vehicle blocks the roadway, it is a $1,157 fine.

As a result of these circumstances, the chain-up area, located eastbound at mile marker 178 on I-70 through Vail, can be difficult to navigate in the winter. It is not only dangerous because of the road conditions, but also because of the large amount of traffic that can build up in the area. The same is true for the chain-down area located westbound at mile marker 179. In December 2009, a driver who was taking his chains off was struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle. In 2011, two more people were struck by a passing vehicle as they chained up and one was sent to the hospital in serious condition. To help prevent another tragedy, the Vail Police Department would like to offer the following safety reminders for the winter season.

There are two common scenarios that cause accidents in the chain-up area. The first scenario is when the chain-up area is full of semi trucks and a car fails to move into the left lane as instructed by the illuminated signs at the beginning of the chain-up area. A semi truck, which has limited visibility and expects the slow lane to be moving slowly, enters traffic “cutting off” the car. The car then hits a semi truck or, worse yet, a person chaining up.

The second and most common scenario is as follows: A car traveling through the chain-up area hits a patch of ice while being driven faster than the 50 mph speed limit, and slides into a semi truck, another car, or one of the people chaining up on the interstate.

Here are a few reminders to get us all through the winter safely:

Always remember to move over to the fast lane. An officer is usually located at the beginning of the chain-up area, not only to inform truck drivers they are required to chain-up by law, but to move passenger cars over to the left lane. It can become very congested in the chain-up area and it's sometimes difficult for trucks to maneuver into an open spot to put on their chains. This can result in semi trucks moving slowly, or even stopping, in the area, causing congestion. In addition, the snow can cover the white fog line, making it difficult to tell the difference between the right lane and the shoulder. Often truck drivers put their chains on very close to the right lane boundary because of the number of trucks utilizing the area. This not only puts the driver in danger, but contributes to the congestion problem.

Remember to follow the illuminated speed limit signs. These signs are located near the chain-up area at eastbound mile marker 177 and the chain-down area at westbound mile marker 179. When the chain law is in effect, the speed limit is reduced to 50 mph. This speed limit slows down traffic during low visibility so truck drivers can safely merge into the left lane when they have finished placing chains on their trucks.

Failure to follow either of these reminders could result in a traffic ticket from an officer or, worse yet, a crash!

Slow down and maintain a safe distance to the vehicle in front of you. Regardless of the speed limit, ensure you are able to maintain control of your vehicle at all times. Also keep in mind that during inclement weather the stopping distance of your vehicle increases greatly, so keep your distance from the vehicle in front of you.

Ensure your vehicle is in proper working condition and plan ahead. Besides making sure your vehicle is running properly, check that your tires are inflated properly and have enough tread. Ensure you have windshield washer fluid, preferably with de-icing solution added, to maintain good visibility. Keep your vehicle stocked with necessary equipment, such as flares, flashlight, traffic triangles, etc., should you be involved in an accident and need to exit your vehicle while on the roadway.

On behalf of the Vail Police Department, we offer these driving tips to help you navigate the snowy roads this winter.

Craig Westering is an officer with the Vail Police Department.


Law makers have to much time on their hands

This proves that law makers have to much time on there hands. To do this would put the driver in danger of hurting themselves climbing on a slick truck to clear snow & ice. This law would be causing more trouble than it's worth.

MA road safety bills cover snow-free trucks, headlight use and road rage
While most legislatures around the country have closed for the year, a handful of statehouses, including Massachusetts, continue to meet.
Several bills of interest are drawing consideration in Massachusetts’ Joint Committee on Transportation. Among them are bills that would require snow and ice removal from trucks before taking to roadways, as well as use of headlights in bad weather. Another bill addresses road rage.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to one bill that would get tough with truck drivers who fail to clear snow and ice off their vehicles. Sponsored by Rep. Cleon Turner, D-Dennis, the bill – H3350 – specifies that the wintry precipitation be removed when accumulation amounts to one quarter of an inch thick or more.
“It shall be the responsibility of the owner, as well as the operator of such vehicle to ensure the removal of accumulated snow and ice” before departure, Turner wrote.
Violators would face fines of at least $100. If injury or property damage occurs, fines would increase to $500.
A similar effort is on the governor’s desk in New Jersey. There, despite opposition from OOIDA and countless truck drivers who have long opposed what they say is legislation that sets truckers up to fail, lawmakers overwhelmingly endorsed the legislation.
The New Jersey bill would make drivers responsible for making “all reasonable efforts to remove accumulated ice or snow” from the hood, trunk and roof of the motor vehicle, truck cab, trailer or intermodal freight container.
Violators would face fines between $25 and $75. No points would be assessed against the driver’s license.
OOIDA says the snow and ice rule would be nearly impossible to comply with. They also cite concerns about requiring people to climb atop large vehicles to remove snow or ice.
Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA’s regulatory affairs specialist, said the Massachusetts bill, like the measure in New Jersey, sets drivers up to fail.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions. This is nothing more than a feel good measure that is a practical impossibility for truckers to comply with,” Rajkovacz told Land Line.
Rajkovacz said for efforts like these to be practical they must hold responsible more people than simply the truck’s driver or owner.
“These laws, if they are to even begin to make sense and be meaningful, have to hold accountable shippers and receivers for putting the infrastructure in place. Or the states themselves will have to have infrastructure in place for drivers to clear the rooftops,” he said.
Rajkovacz said these scenarios likely don’t cover unique loads, such as tarped machinery, when they accumulate snow or ice.
“How is a guy going to sweep the snow off that load? It’s impossible.”
While one Massachusetts bill addresses removal of snow and ice from trucks, another bill is intended to keep all vehicles back from snow and ice removal equipment. Sponsored by Rep. Harold Naughton Jr, D-Clinton, the bill – H3277 – would have all vehicles stay back 500 feet when the equipment is clearing snow and ice from roadways.
Six efforts intended to make roadways safer would require travelers to flip on their headlights when the windshield wipers are in use.
Naughton is the sponsor of another bill – H3279 – that addresses road rage. Law enforcement officers would be allowed to arrest drivers without warrants for actions that include following too closely, “purposely braking to endanger or annoy” the driver of a following vehicle, threatening another driver, making obscene gestures and unnecessary honking.
Violators would face the possibility of fines up to $1,000 and/or two and one-half years in prison. In addition to anger management classes, drivers would have their license revoked for between one year and five years. For commercial drivers, revocation would last between two years and five years.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Massachusetts in 2009, click here.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to

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