Trucking Laws in Colorado
Commercial vehicles are large, complex vehicles that can pose a serious risk of accident and injury if they are not maintained and operated properly. This is especially true when those vehicles are hauling heavy freight or are transporting hazardous substances, such as toxic, flammable, or radioactive materials.
For safety reasons, the trucking industry is heavily regulated at both the state and federal level. Trucking companies sometimes disregard or disobey those trucking laws and regulations. However, when an accident occurs, truck operators and trucking companies may be held liable for non-compliance with those safety measures.
Colorado Chains Law
Under Colorado’s chains law, all commercial vehicles operating on Interstate 70 between milepost 133 and milepost 259 must carry a sufficient number of chains or other traction devices. Chains must be carried from September 1 through May 31. Vehicles must install chains on their wheels when the driver sees the chain law sign’s amber lights flash or notifications on message boards.
Vehicles with a gross combined weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more must be able to chain or install traction devices on four or more drive wheels. All other commercial vehicles and those with less than four drive wheels must have chains or traction devices for those wheels.
Under state and federal laws in Colorado, commercial vehicles must fall within these total vehicle weight limits:
- Single vehicle with two axles: maximum of 36,000 pounds
- Single vehicle with three or more axles: maximum of 54,000 pounds
- Truck/trailer and combination vehicles: 85,000 pounds under Colorado state law, 80,000 pounds under federal law
Hours of Service
Federal regulations govern how long a truck driver may be “on duty.” Drivers are limited to being on duty no more than 14 hours in any 24-hour period. Drivers must also comply with Colorado’s hours of service requirements:
- Drivers may only drive up to 11 hours in any 14-hour, on-duty period.
- Drivers must remain off duty for at least 10 consecutive hours after driving for 11 hours.
- The 14-hour, on-duty period cannot be extended with any breaks, meals or fuel stops.
- Drivers may not be on duty more than 60 hours for any seven-consecutive-day period, or 70 hours for any eight-consecutive-day period.
If a driver’s vehicle has a sleeper berth, a driver who uses the berth must spend at least eight consecutive hours of a 10-hour, off-duty period in the berth. The remaining two hours must be spent either in the berth or off duty or elsewhere for another activity, such as eating meals or showering.
Any truck driver transporting hazardous materials in Colorado must obtain a permit from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. However, certain radioactive materials, including materials used for medical purposes or national security activities are exempted from the permitting requirement. The Colorado State Patrol may designate certain public roads as the routes that must be used by trucks with those hazardous materials.
Under federal law, trucking companies that transport hazardous materials must obtain a Hazardous Materials Safety Permit from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. A truck is required to obtain this permit if it is carrying these hazardous materials:
- Radioactive materials
- Materials that are poisonous or toxic by inhalation
- Liquefied natural gas
- Any other liquified gas with a methane content of at least 85 percent
Carriers applying for a hazardous materials safety permit must also meet certain requirements to receive and maintain their permits.
Mud Flap Laws
Colorado state law requires the use of mud flaps, or splash guards, on all large trucks operating on Colorado roads and highways. Mud flaps must be installed and fully intact at all times. If a driver becomes aware of a damaged mud flap, it must be replaced at the first reasonable and safe opportunity to exit the road.
Federal regulations require that all intrastate and interstate motor carriers and commercial vehicles operating in Colorado carry these levels of insurance:
- For-hire vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more, transporting nonhazardous property: $750,000
- For-hire and private vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more, transporting hazardous materials in cargo tanks or in bulk: $5 million
- For-hire and private vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 10,001 pounds, transporting hazardous materials: $5 million
- For-hire and private vehicles with a gross-vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more, transporting hazardous materials and not otherwise subject to other insurance requirements: $1 million
Commercial Vehicle Driver’s License Requirements
Drivers must obtain a commercial vehicle driver’s license (CDL) if they operate:
- Any commercial motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
- Any commercial vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver
- Any vehicle transporting hazardous materials that is required to be placarded in accordance with federal regulations governing the transport of hazardous materials
A person may obtain a CDL if they have:
- A valid driver’s license from Colorado or another state, or a commercial permit
- A current DOT medical card, obtained following an examination by a certified medical examiner
- A Social Security number
- A commercial drive skills test completion form dated within 60 days
If a driver is seeking to add a hazardous materials (HAZMAT) endorsement to a CDL, the driver must pass the HAZMAT written exam and a TSA background check.
Colorado issues three classes of CDLs:
- Class A, for combination vehicles with a combined gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the gross vehicle weight rating of the vehicle being towed is greater than 10,000 pounds
- Class B, for straight trucks and light combinations, with a single vehicle GVWR of 26,001 pounds, or any vehicle towing another vehicle whose GVWR does not exceed 10,000 pounds
- Class C, vehicles with a GVWR of less than 26,001 that transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or is placarded for the transport of hazardous materials
Hurt in a Truck Accident? Talk to a Lawyer Now
Have you or a loved one been injured in a truck accident in Colorado that was the truck driver’s fault? You may be entitled to seek compensation for your injuries and damages. Truck accident claims can be complex. You need skilled legal representation in your corner. An experienced truck accident attorney can help you secure full financial recovery.
Contact Colorado truck accident attorney Jeffrey Scott Lasswell today. You can schedule a case review to discuss your legal rights and options following your truck accident. You will learn more about how Jeffrey S. Lasswell, PC can help guide you through your truck accident claim.