It was a day like many others on Oct. 18, 2018. Cars and trucks were moving along Highway 370 at a sufficient speed, but one vehicle was making its way at its own pace.
A pickup truck clipped a horse and buggy rig. No human was injured but the Colorado State Patrol reported the horse came away with a slight limp. The pickup driver was cited for careless driving.
Everyone shares the road, and everyone shares responsibilities – including operators of slow-moving vehicles like trucks, tractors, combines, recreational vehicles, utility vehicles, road maintenance equipment and animal-drawn carts. You have a responsibility to slow down and share the road, and it is common courtesy for them to pull over and let speedier vehicles pass.
Bill fails on party-line vote
A bill introduced in the 2016 Colorado Senate would have required slow-moving traffic on two-lane mountain highways to pull over. Sponsored by Sen. Mike Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, SB18 would have focused on vehicles impeding five or more other vehicles.
Merrifield said he was inspired by the many times he was among 15 to 20 cars tied up behind a slow-moving vehicle on a curvy mountain road. His frustration led him to author the bill. He said he called it the “Colorado Common Courtesy Bill.”
It was voted down on a 3-2 party-line vote in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee in early February 2016.
The Colorado Motor Carriers Association successfully lobbied the three Republicans on the committee to oppose the measure, saying the bill targeted the trucking industry. They argued that trucks have a hard time pulling over on winding roads, that trucks would likely still impede traffic even if they tried pulling over on roads with narrow shoulders, and that truckers are so often focused on the road ahead that they might not even know they are blocking 20 cars behind them. The association also argued that Colorado’s many tourists likely drive slow because they’re not used to mountain driving.
Colorado already has a “move right” law on the books for divided highways. Slower vehicles have to move to the right so speedier vehicles can pass.
And, of course, courtesy cuts both ways. When following a horse and buggy, don’t honk your horn. It could scare the animal. If you’re behind a number of animals, a sudden sound could start a stampede, which is a traffic offense.