Trooper Tips from the Colorado State Patrol
December 25, 2019
One of the things about living in rural parts of Colorado means often having to travel on two lane roads. Where it is sometimes a lot more pleasant than driving on a big highway, it can have its drawbacks. One of those is not having a passing lane you can access the entire time you are traveling that roadway. In Colorado, there are 11 state statutes that talk about the proper way to pass another vehicle. I'm going to hit on a few of them this month.
Passing on the left in an unsafe manner. This is one I see a lot of times. When you are going to pass a vehicle going the same direction, there are a multitude of items to make sure you are going to be able to pass safely. The law states you must do so in a safe manner. This means not getting too close to the vehicle you are about to pass.
In other words, don't ride their bumper. The second part of this is when you pass, make sure you give the vehicle being passed a safe amount of space before going back into their lane. If you cause the other vehicle to slow or worse yet brake hard because you came in too close to them, you are in the wrong.
Also keep in mind the area you are making your pass needs to be sufficient enough to be able to complete the pass before the lines dividing the lanes go back to a solid line. So this means if you start your pass when there is a dotted line and you do not get back over to the right lane prior to the lines going solid, you may be cited for passing in a no passing zone. You are also not allowed to go over the speed limit to pass another vehicle.
When being passed on the left by another vehicle: This is another violation I see quite often. When being passed on the left, the driver is required to give way to the passing vehicle and shall not increase speed while being passed.
Passing a bicycle on the left: So if passing a bicycle on the left will cause you to go into the oncoming lane of traffic, you must wait for the lane to be clear of vehicles that are coming from the other direction. You cannot force the other car to have to slow or move onto the other shoulder because you are passing a bicycle, even if you are only going partially into the other lane. The same goes if you are passing a vehicle, you cannot force them to slow or divert from their path.
Passing within 100 feet of a bridge, tunnel, or viaduct when the view is obstructed: Any time you are unable to see far enough to make sure it is clear of vehicles is a good time to wait until you are sure such a pass can be made safely. The same goes for trying to pass on a curve or hill. Most times the roadway will be marked with solid lines, but in case there aren't any markings, just know this is also against the law.
Passing within 100 feet of an intersection or railroad crossing: This one is just common sense as far as I'm concerned. Please just wait until you are past the railroad or intersection.
Remember to always use your turn signal when passing so you let everyone know your intentions. Each of these violations I have mentioned above is a $113.50 fine and a 4-point hit on your driver's license. So be kind when passing and being passed.
On a final note, periodically I receive emails about topics readers would like to see in the future, or additional information on topics I have hit. I try to get those in whenever I can fit them in. The question came up if there are any emergency call boxes located on any of the canyon roads. CDOT does not have any in operation.
If you are in an area where you do not have cell service, try to do the best you can to get information to emergency personnel. If you have to drive somewhere to get assistance for an injured party, please make the drive. If you have a passer-by stop have them relay the information for you. Safety is the #1 objective in any of these scenarios.
As always, safe travels.