Thursday, January 15, 2009

Merrifield's "Car Courtesy" Bill Clears Committee

Legislation that aims to keep traffic moving reasonably fast on Colorado's mountain roads got the approval of a House committee this morning.

HB 1042 requires any vehicle traveling at a velocity less than the speed limit and which is blocking more than five other vehicles to pull over so that the vehicles behind can pass. The slow driver would be required to pull off the road at the first safe location.

"People can relate to this because at one time or another they've been stuck behind a slow RV or car," sponsoring Rep. Mike Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, said. "On narrow winding roads, I see it happening all the time."

Merrifield said he witnessed a similar law in action during a visit to Alaska last summer. The "Last Frontier" experiences an influx of slow recreational vehicles in the warm months and that state's traffic code requires those vehicles to make way for faster vehicles on narrow roads.

"I'm calling it the 'Car Courtesy Bill,'" Merrifield said. "If you are a slow driver, the courteous thing to do, when you have the opportunity, is to get out of the way. Such courtesy will reduce road rage, too, but it’s primarily a safety issue."

The veteran Democrat said that he thinks his bill, if enacted, will lower the temptation to pass when conditions do not warrant it.

"Cars get backed up and when they get impatient, drivers try to pass," Merrifield said. "They pass when you can't see the traffic ahead or they pass when there are too many vehicles to be passing safely. I've seen people passing when they never should've tried. I'm sure they just got sick and tired of waiting."

The bill now goes to the House floor.