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Since I was a kid I frequently traveled from Denver, CO to our state’s renowned ski resorts via Interstate 70 (I-70). For one reason or another, I remember dreading these road trips due to weather, traffic, or just being an impatient kid who wanted to be on the slopes and do anything but sit in a car. I never fully comprehended how dangerous what seemed to be a routine drive for my family actually was.

Colorado’s I-70 mountain corridor is one of the most dangerous stretches of highway in the country. Over the last three years, Colorado State Patrol (CSP) crash data revealed that 52% of the crashes associated with Vail Pass, between mile post 182 to 193, were speed related. The speed related crashes most commonly occurred on steep downhill grades on either side of the mountain passes (Hickman, 2024).

In 2021, Colorado saw a five year high in fatal crashes involving commercial vehicles (CMV) with a total of 79. Since 2021 CSP has seen fatal crashes involving commercial vehicles reduced marginally. In 2022, there were 64 fatal crashes reported and as of October 2023 there had only been 43 fatalities reported. The highest volume of these fatal crashes occurred along the I-70 mountain corridor (Butzer, 2023).

With overall fatalities dropping, but in an effort to address safety issues along I-70, legislation sponsored by several Colorado State Senators was introduced. Known as SB24-100, the bill was broken down into seven sections, I have highlighted sections 1 – 4 which I found to be the most impactful.

Section 1 – Shifts the requirement for commercial vehicles to carry chains on I-70, Interstate 25 (I-25), and any state or U.S. highway highway west of I-25 from September 1 to May 25.

Section 2 – Permits establishment of speed limit enforcement zones in Glenwood Canyon, with increased fines for speeding and requires signage created to notify commercial vehicle drivers.

Section 3 – Prohibits commercial vehicles from using the furthest left lane between mileposts 116 and 259, except for passing vehicles driving below the speed limit.

Section 4 – Imposes double fines and surcharges on commercial motor vehicle drivers for speeding violations within designated zones.

The Senate Transportation and Energy Committee held a hearing on the bill on March 6, 2024 (Globe, 2024). Greg Fulton who is in charge of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association said “the bill, while well intended, would have unintended consequences” (Paul, 2024). In the future, drivers using I-70 need to not only be mindful of road condition and speed, but also aware of potential changes in the law that could affect their commute along the I-70 corridor.

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