Colorado I-70 wintry weather drivingBecause Colorado lawmakers could not agree on a bill requiring drivers of noncommercial vehicles to use snow tires or chains on their cars in wintry conditions on Interstate 70, legislators instead agreed to conduct a study on the issue, as CBS4 Denver reports. On Wednesday, Governor John Hickenlooper signed what news reports are calling the “watered down” bill.

The bill directs lawmakers to study whether to require snow tires or chains on noncommercial vehicles “during the spring and winter months on a nearly 130-mile stretch of Interstate 70 between Morrison, near Denver, and Dotsero to the west, near Glenwood Springs,” writes Ivan Moreno for Associated Press in an article appearing on Daily Camera. The aim of the study, Moreno writes, is to find a way to solve the problem of accidents that result in traffic congestion. As CBS4 Denver writes, lawmakers seek a solution for car accidents, spin-outs, and traffic tie-ups.

Moreno writes:

‘It was the most misunderstood bill of the year,’ said Republican Rep. Bob Rankin, one of the bill’s sponsors. He said there were misguided fears about checkpoints to analyze people’s tires, when in fact, people would only face tickets and fines if they caused an accident and didn’t have chains or proper tires.

Hickenlooper said that last year, there were a large number of traffic tie-ups “one weekend after another,” due to vehicles that lacked the right equipment for wintry conditions, CBS4 Denver writes. “Some of these [tie-ups] were caused by people driving on bald tires,” he said, as Randy Wyrick reports for VailDaily. The governor mentioned a 2007 study by a Front Range agency, finding that mountain businesses lost $800,000 every hour that I-70 traffic is congested, VailDaily writes.

Among the groups supporting the study are the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado State Patrol, commercial trucking groups, and many ski areas, CBS4 writes. VailDaily writes that Rankin said the solution to the problem is clear: “You buy a $20 set of chains and throw them in the trunk, and if you need them you’ve got ’em.”

The Colorado Department of Transportation writes that it is important to equip cars with snow tires or chains:

Bald or worn tires cannot grip the road and can be extremely hazardous — think of tires as your lifeline in a car; the few square inches of rubber contacting the pavement is all that is between you and potential trouble.

Although no states require snow tires, some require chains on tires during bad weather, Moreno quotes Dan Zielinski, a Rubber Manufacturers Association spokesman, as saying. California and Nevada require tires equipped for winter weather on Interstate 80 on Donner Pass, and Washington and Oregon have that same requirement regarding Snoqualmie Pass, Moreno writes.

Image by Rudi Riet

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