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Truckers Travel I70 In The Eastern Plains After Snow Storm Causes Series Of Pileups

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Truckers Travel I70 In The Eastern Plains After Snow Storm Causes Series Of Pileups

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Truckers Travel I70 In The Eastern Plains After Snow Storm Causes Series Of Pileups
Truckers Travel I70 In The Eastern Plains After Snow Storm Causes Series Of Pileups

Truckers are returning to driving on Interstate 70 east of the Denver metro area after the highway was closed for most of Wednesday and Thursday. Many of the drivers were refueling their trucks thinking how difficult it was 24 hours ago.

“I've hauled chains, but this truck has never seen chains,” says veteran truck driver John Jansen. The conditional command is used as a warning. "If the chain situation is bad enough, it's bad enough to stop the truck."

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Other truckers continued to drive Wednesday to weather the storm. Dozens of people went off the road or crashed into other trucks and four cars during a snowstorm. A driver involved in the crash explained that he had to continue through the storm to pay for his truck and trailer, which were then crushed into a pile.

"For someone like an owner and operator who might charge per mile or per load, yes, that's going to bother them," said Greg Fulton, president of the Colorado Auto Association. The logistics of crossing the Colorado had to be considered. "You're actually planning where you'll be. You're planning what you're going to wear and all that other stuff," says Fulton.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has not implemented mandatory joint requirements for trucks traveling on I-70 during hurricanes. While these requirements are common in mountain storms, they are rare in the eastern Colorado plains. “Chains don't help you stop. The chain helps with traction on hills,” writes CDOT's director of operations and maintenance.

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Fulton notes that there is a spillover area near E-470, but not another along this segment of I-70. He said there was also a lack of places to stop. "One of the challenges we face is that we don't have enough truck stops in the state — in a safe place — with amenities like restrooms and stuff."

Federal regulations also limit the number of hours a truck driver can work at any one time, allowing for 11 hours of driving in a 13-hour day. "If I parked this car in a rainstorm and waited four hours, it would take four hours out of my day," says Fulton. There is more motivation to keep moving even if the conditions are awful.

Driver Christian Waring has been on the road alone as a truck driver for almost a month. He wasn't wearing the chains yet, but the bad weather didn't feel like wearing the chains. He felt lucky he didn't have to go on.

"I thank the company I work for because they are very strict with regulations and stuff like that," Waring said. "They told us to stop, go to the nearest station, sleep through the night. Get up tomorrow morning and do it again."

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