Trucking Laws & Regulations in Colorado
Colorado state law and federal law regulate the operation of commercial trucks and vehicles. Colorado law defines a commercial vehicle as any vehicle used in commerce with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 16,000 pounds that is self-propelled, towed, or designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver), or that is designed or intended to transport other motor vehicles or hazardous materials.
If you’ve been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, contact Earl & Earl, PLLC today for a free case review. You can speak to one of our experienced Colorado truck accident lawyers about how Colorado’s trucking laws may impact your truck accident case.
Colorado Commercial Vehicle Driver’s Licenses
To operate a commercial truck, a driver must possess a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or a commercial driver instruction permit. A person must be at least 18 years old and hold a regular driver’s license to apply for a commercial driver instruction permit or CDL in Colorado. Applications must include the driver’s social security number, proof of identity, and proof of lawful presence. Applicants must also go through a driving record check and pass a medical exam and written knowledge test.
After obtaining a CDL, a truck driver may get endorsements to their license to operate particular trucks or haul hazardous cargo. CDL endorsements include:
- Class C – Permits driving of any vehicle that does not meet Class B or Class A definitions but is designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver).
- Class B – Permits operation of any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 26,000 pounds or towing of a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of not more than 10,000 pounds.
- Class A – Permits operation of any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 26,000 pounds and vehicles with a semi-trailer or trailer with two or more axles.
Holding a Class B endorsement permits a driver to operate Class C vehicles, while drivers with a Class A endorsement may operate Class B or Class C vehicles.
Size and Weight Limits for Commercial Trucks
Both federal and Colorado laws impose size and weight limits for commercial trucks on roads, state highways, and interstate highways. Truck size and weight limits include:
- Overall length – No federal length limit, but state law imposes a 45-foot limit on single-vehicle length and a 70-foot limit combination length.
- Trailer length – State law limit of 57.3 feet for semi-trailers and 28.5 feet length on trailers
- Width – 8.5 feet under federal and state law
- Height – No federal limit, but state law imposes a limit of 13 feet on state highways and 14.5 feet on federal highways and the interstate.
- Single-vehicle weight for vehicles with two axles – 36,000 pounds
- Single-vehicle weight for vehicles with three or more axles – 54,000 pounds
- Truck/trailer or combination vehicle weight – 80,000 pounds
If a truck exceeds these limits, it must obtain an oversize or overweight permit. The Colorado Department of Transportation regulates and licenses the operation of oversize and overweight trucks on Colorado highways.
Hours of Service Rules for Truck Drivers
Federal law imposes a limit on the number of hours a truck driver can spend “on duty.” The hours-of-service (HOS) rules for truck drivers include:
- A driver cannot spend more than 14 hours on duty in any 24-hour period.
- A driver may not drive more than 11 hours during the 14-hour on-duty period.
- A driver must spend at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty after driving for 11 hours.
- During the 10-hour off-duty period, a driver must spend at least eight hours in the truck’s sleeper berth and at least two more hours either in the sleeper berth or otherwise off-duty.
- The 14-hour duty window may not be extended through meals, fuel stops, rest breaks, or other off-duty time.
- A driver may not spend more than 60 hours on-duty in any seven consecutive day period or more than 70 hours in any eight-consecutive day period.
Drivers must keep a log of their duty hours, which law enforcement or regulatory officials may inspect. Drivers found to have exceeded their HOS limitations can be placed out-of-service until they meet off-duty requirements, or the driver or their trucking company may be fined, have their safety rating downgraded, or face civil or criminal penalties for knowing and willful violations of the HOS rules.
Colorado Chain Law for Trucks
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has the authority to close any state highway to travel for any vehicles, including commercial trucks, which do not have tire chains or other preparation for the road conditions. CDOT, in cooperation with the Colorado State Police, notifies truck drivers and other motorists when chains are required for a specific section of highway.
Under Colorado law, all commercial trucks driving on I-70 between mileposts 133 and 259 between September 1 and May 31 must carry chains at all times, even if CDOT does not require the use of chains at the time.
CDOT may require two different levels of chaining for commercial trucks:
- Level 1 – All commercial vehicles with single-drive axle combinations are required to chain all four drive wheels. All other commercial vehicles must either have chains or snow tires.
- Level 2 – All commercial vehicles are required to use chains. Single drive and tandem drive vehicles must chain four drive wheels. Buses are required to chain at least two drive wheels.
Approved chains include metal chains with two metal loops on each side of the tire, connected by at least nine chain loops spaced evenly across the tread. Other approved traction devices include wheel sanders, pneumatically driven chains (which spin under wheels when traction is lost), and the AutoSock textile traction device (a fabric covering that goes over the tire). Colorado’s chain law also allows the use of tire cables as an alternative traction device if the cables use high-strength steel cross-members of 0.415 inches or greater in diameter or on a tandem power drive axle which may use any type of cable if chains are used on the power drive axles outside wheels.
Colorado Mud Flap Law for Trucks
Colorado state law requires that trucks use splash guards, also called “mud flaps,” which help minimize spray from a truck’s tires. All large trucks must have splash guards installed. If any splash guard becomes damaged or torn, a truck driver is required to pull over at the first reasonable and safe opportunity to repair or replace the splash guard.
Talk to a Colorado Truck Accident Lawyer
If you have been in a truck accident, contact Earl & Earl, PLLC today for a free, no-obligation consultation with our knowledgeable Colorado truck accident attorneys. We will explain more about your legal rights and options for pursuing compensation for your injuries and the expenses and losses you have incurred.
We can serve you through any of our offices conveniently located in Colorado Springs, Castle Rock, Grand Junction, Denver, and Pueblo.