New Signs, In-Cab Alerts Aim To Keep Truckers Safe On Colorado’s Perilous Mountain Roads

<p>Nathaniel Minor/CPR News</p>
<p>This is what the truck driver sees as their truck heads down I-70 eastbound toward Denver, May 1, 2019.</p>

Traversing Colorado's mountains can be a big challenge for experienced local truckers, let alone out-of-state drivers who don't know the ins and outs of every turn along Interstate 70.

So the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado State Patrol and a handful of industry groups have announced a slate of new safety features called "The Mountain Rules" aimed at keeping drivers safe on mountain roads.

They include:

  • A new in-cab system that alerts drivers about trouble spots, and the location of brake check areas and runaway truck ramps
  • Six new signs on eastbound I-70 for brake check locations
  • Improvements to the short-term truck parking area at the Genesee Park exit, which is just before a series of dangerous curves that descend into the Denver metro

The main push is to educate drivers about how to use all of the safety systems already in place, like runaway truck ramps.

"Those only work if people use them," said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew.

Jesus Torres, a local trucker at Dixon Bros., told CPR News in May that some drivers avoid using those ramps because they're worried about losing time and the money needed for a tow out.

Colorado State Patrol Colonel Matthew Packard said there's also a misconception that drivers will be cited by law enforcement if they use the ramps.

"Should your brakes fail, please save lives, and use the ramps," he said in a news release.

The campaign comes four months after a runaway truck careened down I-70 and crashed into traffic in the western edge of the metro. CDOT spokesman Matt Inzeo said the new effort isn't necessarily related to that.

"We always look for ways to improve safety," he said. "We are certainly aware of this poignance of the partnership given the crash earlier this year."