The Colorado Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Motor Carriers Association, and in-cab driver alert providers, PrePass Safety Alliance and Drivewyze, are coming together to help enhance safety for truckers traveling through the state’s mountainous areas.
CDOT is launching a new safety campaign, The Mountain Rules, a comprehensive, strategic and safety-focused effort to inform and educate trucking companies and drivers on the challenges of driving in Colorado’s mountains. The initiative includes information on potential hazards and a consistent reminder on the need to be slow, steady and safe while driving down steep mountain passes.
“It’s no secret that our mountains create immense challenges for semi-truck drivers,” said Shoshana Lew, CDOT executive director. “The Mountain Rules has a simple mission - get everyone home safely – and this campaign, which supports CDOT’s Whole Safety – Whole System initiative, is a major step towards achieving that goal.”
In addition to an educational effort, The Mountain Rules consists of infrastructure and informational improvements, including:
- Signing eastbound Interstate 70 and all eastbound chain stations, east of the Eisenhower/Johnson Tunnels, with information on the brake check locations for truckers.
- Restriping the wide eastbound exit ramp at the Genesee Park Interchange into a more-defined short-term truck parking area where overheated brakes can cool down and equipment checks can take place prior to the final descent into the Golden area.
- A new subscription-based, in-cab alert system, warning truck drivers about specific areas where brake failures could occur, and the location of brake check and runaway truck ramps.
- Information gathering on the feasibility of a new ramp and other measures to mitigate runaway trucks, such as geometric and signage improvements to the existing Mount Vernon Canyon Truck Runaway Ramp.
The I-70 Mountain Corridor will be the initial pilot for The Mountain Rules. CDOT then will expand the program to other mountainous locations.
To help improve mountain safety in Colorado, both PrePass and Drivewyze have added safety alerts to their platforms, warning drivers of upcoming dangerous areas, locations of runaway ramps, and other helpful tips to safely navigate steep mountain passes.
Drivers using the PrePass weigh station bypass mobile app, PrePass Motion, already receive safety alerts on their mobile devices when approaching steep grades, gusty wind areas or other hazards. The newest alerts will now notify drivers when they are approaching any of the five runaway truck ramps along I-70 in Colorado.
PrePass alerts also provide advance notice of seven brake check and/or tire chain-up or removal areas along the route. Drivers receive a visual and audible alert approximately five miles in advance of these locations.
“These dynamic alerts will improve highway safety by notifying truck drivers well in advance of steep grades and sites where they can check their brakes,” said Terry Maple, regional director for PrePass Safety Alliance.
Drivewyze has added mountain corridor safety alerts to its Drivewyze Safety Notifications service, alerting drivers to upcoming safe locations to pull over for brake check inspections and showing suggested maximum speeds down steep grades.
Drivewyze subscribers will have their drivers receive in-cab alerts and see prompts to gear low while showing suggested maximum speeds down steep grades. It will also alert drivers of upcoming runaway ramps.
Colorado is Drivewyze’s first state in the new alert program. Seven Colorado mountain passes are part of the Drivewyze Safety Notifications package, with 22 more states to follow by the end of August. In addition to I-70, Drivewyze is providing alerts for Rabbit Ears Pass, Loveland Pass, Monarch Pass, Slickrock Pass, Wolf Creek Pass and Coal Bank Pass.
“It’s a challenge for truck drivers with steep grades and heavy traffic – especially for those new to mountain driving,” said Brian Mofford, vice president of government experience at Drivewyze. “Drivers have to be in tune with their surroundings, check their brakes and be prepared for constant downshifting and speed control. Brakes can get hot and fail for those who are not ready. It’s why we also have notifications for runaway ramps as a last resort safeguard for a safe stop. Our alerts will help keep preparations top of mind to help keep truck drivers and the motoring public safer.”
A recent incident in April saw an out-of-control runaway truck slam into stopped traffic near Lakewood, Colorado, killing four people. Luckily, other tragedies have been averted thanks to truck drivers using the corridor’s five runaway truck ramps along the route, according to CDOT.
“The goal is to not have to use the ramps at all, by having drivers better prepared,” said Mofford. “Our alerts will keep safety front and center and prompt drivers to check their brakes, allowing them to cool down, and remind them to downshift to a lower gear.”