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Colorado State Publications Blog

Auto Theft Prevention Resources

Motor vehicle theft is on the rise, according to statistics from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. There were 22,206 cases of auto theft in 2017, a 72{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} increase from 2014! Less than half of the vehicles were recovered. And vehicle break-ins are one of the most common types of property crimes in Colorado.

So what can you do to help protect your vehicle from theft or break-in? What should you do if one happens? And if you’re buying a used car, how do you make sure it’s not stolen?

The Colorado State Patrol has put together a helpful list of resources to answer these questions. The list includes links to information and tips from insurance groups, government agencies, and auto associations about how to protect yourself. Also included are links to auto prevention authorities in other states, since stolen vehicles frequently cross state lines. Resources like a VIN Decoder are also provided to help you verify if a car you wish to purchase had been stolen. You’ll also find links to neighborhood crime reports to help you find out about crime rates in your area, since one third of all vehicle thefts occur at the owner’s home.

You can also find helpful information at lockdownyourcar.org, a website sponsored by the Colorado Automobile Theft Prevention Authority (CATPA), a division of the State Patrol. See this publication to learn about what CATPA is doing to reduce vehicle thefts in Colorado. Statistics and information is also available in their annual report.

Did you know that the highest number of vehicle thefts occur between 6 and 9 a.m.? This may be because drivers often leave their cars idling and unattended on cold mornings. There are many things you can do to help reduce the risk of having your car stolen or vandalized, so check out these handy resources to help increase your awareness.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Transportation Network Companies

How does the State of Colorado regulate digitally-networked transportation companies like Uber and Lyft? The Colorado Legislative Council has just published a new Issue Brief that explores this topic. Here you can learn about the many differences between transportation network companies (TNCs) and traditional taxicabs, including driver requirements, safety inspections, and how the companies set their rates. For more information on rules and regulations for transportation companies, see the Colorado Public Utilities Commission website.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

Whether from drinks, drugs, or distractions, impaired driving is a serious hazard that puts lives in danger. Here are some resources from the State of Colorado that can help you learn about the hazards of driving impaired and how to stay safe:

SAFETY AND PREVENTION

FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT AND COURTS

FOR OFFENDERS

COLORADO LAWS

STATISTICS

WEBSITES

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Motor Vehicle Law Resource Book

Colorado Legislative Council, the nonpartisan research branch of the General Assembly, has just updated their Colorado Motor Vehicle Law Resource Book. This handy online guide can answer many of your questions about Colorado’s various motor vehicle laws. Among the topics covered are

  • taxes and fees
  • chain laws
  • distracted driving laws
  • HOV and express lanes
  • emissions
  • photo radar and red light cameras
  • titling and registration
  • minor drivers
  • commercial vehicles
  • low-power scooters and electric bicycles

and much more. You can find further information on Colorado motor vehicle laws by visiting the Transportation & Motor Vehicles section of Legislative Council’s website and the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Division of Motor Vehicles website. Also, search our library’s online catalog for additional resources.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Highway Work Zone Safety

Did you know that since 1929, sixty Colorado highway workers have lost their lives in the line of duty? The most recent fatality, that of Nolan Olson in southwestern Colorado, occurred just this year. Olson, like many of the other fatalities, was just doing his job when he was struck by an oncoming vehicle.

In 2010 the Colorado legislature passed HB10-1014, which requires CDOT and the State Patrol to prepare a joint annual legislative report regarding fatalities in work zones and what awareness and safety measures are being taken. You can view all of these  reports online from our library. Also, during the 2018 session, just following Olson’s death, the General Assembly passed a resolution designating a section of Hwy 84 near Pagosa Springs as the “Nolan Olson Memorial Highway.”

To help avoid accidents like Olson’s, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reminds drivers to “slow for the cone zone.” If you’re driving through a construction area, go extra slowly and carefully, always obey flaggers, and make sure to give workers a wide breadth. Visit CDOT’s website for more tips on safe driving in construction zones.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Statistics on Seat Belt Use

One of the easiest things you can do to protect yourself when you get in the car is to fasten your seat belt.  Yet each year there are still many people who needlessly lose their lives simply because they didn’t buckle up.  According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the average rate of seat belt use in Colorado is just 84{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5}, lower than the national average of 90.1{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5}.  During a seat belt enforcement campaign spanning two weeks in May-June 2017, including Memorial Day weekend, a whopping 5,505 drivers were cited for seat belt violations, with an additional 217 ticketed for driving with improperly restrained children.

CDOT notes that “In 2016, 180 people who weren’t buckled up lost their lives in traffic crashes on Colorado roadways. If everyone had buckled up, nearly half of the victims would have lived.”  That exact same number of fatalities also occurred in 2013. That year, CDOT issued an infographic Unbuckled and Uncensored, which offers further insight on these fatalities.  For instance, this publication illustrates that more men than women failed to buckle up; 49{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} of the unbuckled fatalities were alcohol-related; and 63{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} of fatal crashes involved a pickup truck or SUV.

You can find statistical information on seat belt use, car seats, and other safety measures both on CDOT’s website and from our library.  CDOT publishes several annual reports about seat belt use, which you can access from our library:

Older data, for comparison purposes, can be found in

Also, for more about what the state is doing to try to promote seat belt use, see the CDOT research report Identification of Appropriate Investment Levels to Maintain and Improve Seat Belt Usage Rates in the State of Colorado.

Image courtesy CDOT 

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Colorado State Publications Blog

How to Use Express Lanes

With more and more people living — and driving — in the metro area, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has been adding express lanes to many highways.  Some of these, like those on US36 between Denver and Boulder, are open; others, including new express lanes on I-70 and C-470, are yet to come.

The purpose of express lanes is to help ease traffic congestion on highways and interstates.  To be able to use express lanes, you must obtain a special ExpressToll pass.  There are also some different configurations and rules that make express lanes different from regular highway lanes, so if you want to participate, CDOT has several resources to help you.  They have created a series of videos that explain how to use the special lanes — whether you’re a commuter, a carpooler, or a transit rider.  CDOT’s Express Lanes website also includes FAQs, fact sheets, information on upcoming construction, and links for obtaining ExpressToll passes and receiving alerts.  Avoid confusion before your trip and check out these resources before you hit the road. 

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Colorado State Publications Blog

'Tis the Season for Parking Problems

Holiday parties and crowded shopping malls, not to mention the possibility for winter weather, can make parking your car a major headache this time of year.  The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) wants you to be prepared so that your holiday festivities don’t get spoiled by having your car towed.

The Public Utilities Commission, a division of DORA, posted these tips in a recent press release:

1. Park on private property only if you have permission; otherwise park only in public lots.

Private property owners, as well as individuals or companies that have been authorized in writing to act as agent for the property owner, have a right to remove vehicles that are parked on their property without permission. This applies to businesses, apartment complexes, residences and any other private property. So before you leave your car, first do a thorough search for any signs that may indicate that the lot you chose is private.  

2: Private property restrictions can be can be enforced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

That party you’re attending is just across the street from a business with a private lot. The business is closed. It’s ok to park there, right? 

Not unless you have explicit permission from the property owner.

Even if a business is closed, at night or on weekends, it can still have non-authorized vehicles removed from its parking lot. And it doesn’t matter how long the vehicle has been parked there. If you park in a private lot and run across the street just for a few minutes to complete an errand, your vehicle could be towed.

3: Be prepared – getting your car back will be expensive.

The PUC regulates the rates for non-consensual tows, but a private property tow could still end up costing you several hundred dollars once all the charges for the tow, mileage and storage are added up.

So you got towed … now what?

The PUC has adopted rules that provide some consumer protections in cases of non-consensual tows.

·  Towing carriers are required to obtain proper authorization from a property owner before a tow can be made;

·  Authorization must be filled out in full, signed by the property owner, and given to the towing carrier at the time the vehicle is to be removed from the private property;

·  If a consumer attempts to retrieve their vehicle before it is removed from private property, the towing carrier must release the vehicle if the consumer agrees to pay the “drop charge”;

·  And a towing carrier must be available within the first 24-hours of having stored a vehicle to either release the vehicle from storage immediately upon demand during normal business hours or with one hour’s notice during all other times.

DORA also reminds holiday partygoers and hosts that many homeowners’ associations (HOAs) have parking restrictions.  Spaces may be reserved for owners, or what look like spaces could be designated fire lanes.  DORA recommends homeowners in HOAs familiarize themselves with their HOA’s visitor parking regulations before the guests arrive.  Guests having their cars towed would be a sure way to spoil the party!

Finally, if you’re traveling with passengers who are elderly or disabled, you can learn about parking rules in the Colorado Department of Revenue’s brochure Persons with Disabilities Parking Privileges.

For further information on parking rules see the Colorado Driver Handbook.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Keeping Kids Safe on the Road

This week is both National Teen Driver Safety Week and National School Bus Safety Week.  Our library has many resources that can help you learn about and bring attention to both of these important causes.
Teen drivers:


School buses:


Search our library’s web catalog for more resources.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Dial 511 for Road Conditions

Winter driving season has arrived!  The Colorado Department of Transportation offers several services to help you be prepared and aware of road closures and weather conditions.  Log on to cotrip.org, or simply dial 511 from anywhere in Colorado.  511 works with both cell phones and land lines.  You can also sign up for email or text alerts from CDOT, or download the CDOT mobile app.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Alcohol and Impaired Driving

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), more than 26,000 people are arrested for a DUI each year.  This includes both drunk driving and drugged driving.  CDOT conducts numerous public awareness campaigns as well as their “high visibility enforcement” campaign known as “The Heat is On,” which include checkpoints and increased police presence during holiday celebration periods and other times throughout the year when drinking tends to increase.

CDOT’s Alcohol and Impaired Driving webpage provides numerous resources including public awareness campaign materials; breathalyzer information; links to alternative transportation sources; statistics; grant information for local agencies; and more.  Here you can also download CDOT’s free “R-U Buzzed” app for calculating your BAC.  (If you don’t want to download an app, you can also print out CDOT’s handy wallet-sized BAC chart.)  “R-U Buzzed” can also connect you with other sources of transportation if you are impaired.

Sample screen for CDOT’s R-U-Buzzed app.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado's Left Lane Law

It’s a frustrating situation:  you’re driving down the highway and come upon a slow-moving vehicle in front of you, so you wish to pass.  But you can’t…someone is driving slowly or “hogging” the left lane, impeding your ability to pass the other vehicle.  It happens every day, but it’s illegal.  Since the passage of Colorado’s Left Lane Law in 2004, law enforcement officers have the ability to cite a driver for impeding the flow of traffic in the left lane.

 
The above excerpt of the Left Lane Law is from the Colorado State Patrol publication Colorado’s Left Lane Law:  Understanding How the Left Lane Law Affects Your Driving, available online from our library.  The full text of the law can be found in the Colorado Revised Statutes, which are also available online.  Original legislation for the law can be found here.  For more information on this and other Colorado traffic laws see the official Colorado Driver Handbook.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Vehicle Remote Starter Systems

You may have seen road signs around Denver asking you to refrain from “puffing” your vehicle — that is, letting it idle unattended, which people often do during the winter months to warm up the vehicle.  The problem with “puffing” is that it invites auto theft. It is also illegal.

Yet many newer vehicles have “remote starter” technology — a driver can start the vehicle remotely by using the vehicle’s key fob.  These systems have built-in security features to deter theft, such as keeping the doors locked and not allowing the car to be driven until the driver with the key fob enters the vehicle. 

Up until last winter, Colorado law had not kept up with the new technology.  All vehicle idling was considered illegal.  So last March the governor signed HB16-1122, which added “an exception for vehicles with a remote starter system when the driver takes adequate security measures.”

For those without remote starter systems, it is still illegal to “puff.”  For more information on preventing auto theft see these resources and tips from the Colorado State Patrol.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Changes Coming for Colorado Drivers

Under a new program called Colorado DRIVES (Colorado Driver License, Record, Identification, and Vehicle Enterprise Solution), the Division of Motor Vehicles will be implementing several changes that will affect Colorado drivers.

In April, the Division began rollout of a new driver’s license design.  The new design includes more security features, are laser-engraved, and utilize black-and-white photos instead of color.  Your current license will continue to be valid until its expiration date, at which time you will be issued the newly-designed license.

Colorado’s new driver’s license design

Also redesigned as part of Colorado DRIVES is the registration tag for newly-purchased vehicles.  This new design also enhances security, by including the VIN number, car make and model, year, and color, and other features that will ensure it is only used on the specific vehicle it is registered to.  The new registration tags will debut this month.  See the DMV website for more details.

The new design for temporary registrations

Finally, Colorado DRIVES aims to “improve customer service and meet the Governor’s goal of reducing wait times in state driver license offices to an average of 15 minutes,” according to the project website.  A quarterly report on the implementation of the new WaitLess technology is available from our library.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Buying or Selling a Motor Vehicle

If you’re in the market for a new car or truck, there are many questions to think through besides just which kind to buy — new or used, lease or purchase, etc.  The State of Colorado has many resources for helping Coloradans with the buying and selling process.

The Colorado Department of Revenue is the best place to start when looking for Colorado auto information.  The Division of Motor Vehicles website includes helpful tools such as their Buying and Selling webpage.  Here you can find a list of the buyer’s and seller’s responsibilities for used car transactions.  The department has also issued some helpful publications such as To Lease or Not to Lease? and Tips for Purchasing a Motor Vehicle, helpful resources to consult during the decision-making process.  To avoid hassles, see Complaint Process for Consumers and Dealers and Colorado’s Lemon Law for Consumers and Dealers

For insurance information, see the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies’ Division of Insurance.

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office has a helpful Consumer Resource Guide.  Automobile topics include right to cancel an auto purchase; lemon law; emissions; odometer fraud; salvage; safety; and general information on new and used sales. 

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Toll Lanes on US36

Tomorrow (July 21), tolling will begin for the Express Lanes on US36. Toll rates will vary depending on time of day, number of passengers, type of vehicle, and whether or not you have an ExpressToll pass. An explanation of all the variables can be found on CDOT’s “Plan Your Trip” page. For a breakdown of the rates specific to US36, check out the “US36 Express Lanes Tolling Fact Sheet.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has put together a great source with information about express lanes in general at: https://www.codot.gov/programs/expresslanes. Take a look at the project page for more background information and the environmental impact statement.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Railroad Crossing Safety

A recent news story offered a history of recent incidents of rail crashes resulting in death, citing 29 deaths in Colorado in the last 5 years, including both heavy rail and light rail incidents.  Last week the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issued a press release to bring awareness to this issue and provide safety advice for railroad crossings.  The PUC offered the following tips:


Rail Crossing Safety Tips for everyone:
· Always expect a train at a railroad crossing at any time, on any track, from any direction;
· Always look both directions for a train at any railroad crossing.

Rail Crossing Safety Tips for drivers:
· Don’t drive around crossing gates – it is both unsafe and illegal to do so in Colorado;
· It is both unsafe and illegal in Colorado to stop or allow yourself to become trapped on tracks. Proceed through a highway-rail grade crossing only if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping;
· Always obey warning signs at a railroad crossing whether they are passive (signs) or active (flashing lights, gates, bells).

Rail Crossing Safety Tips for pedestrians and bicyclists:
· Be alert and aware when you are around railroad tracks and at light rail and commuter rail train stations;
· Don’t wear headphones or stare at your phone when you are around railroad crossings;
· Always obey safety warnings whether they are passive (signs) or active (flashing lights, gates, bells, pedestrian swing gates);
· Don’t trespass on railroad or light rail tracks.

 For more in-depth information see the PUC’s Three Year Safety and Security Audit Summary of the Metro Denver Area Regional Transportation District (RTD) Light Rail Operation 2008 through 2010, available online from our library.  See also the Colorado Department of Transportation’s State Freight and Passenger Rail Plan, also available online from our library, which addresses some safety issues.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Winter Driving Preparedness

We may have had a few warm days here in the Denver area, but winter is still in full swing, and it is important to be prepared for winter driving, particularly if you are planning on doing any driving in the mountains.  Even if it is sunny here at lower elevations, drivers heading to or over the Rockies should be prepared for ice, snow, and surprise winter weather.  The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has prepared a winter driving preparedness webpage which includes a helpful checklist of items that drivers should have on hand.  CDOT also offers a winter driving webpage that includes information on chain laws (not just for truckers!), avalanche hazards, and safety tips. 

CDOT’s suggested winter driving kit.
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Colorado State Publications Blog

Teen Drivers: Resources for Parents

Parents, is your teen anxious to get in the driver’s seat?  The requirements for driver’s ed have changed a lot since we got our licenses in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.  Colorado now requires permitted drivers to log practice drive time, and new drivers to use a Graduated Drivers’ License (GDL).  The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has developed a new Online Parent Course on the GDL.  The website in the link above also provides other parent information such as the licensing process and teen driving laws.  Parents looking for information to give their teens about topics such as districted driving, drinking and driving, seat belts, and winter driving, may want to check out the Driver’s Seat Tool Kit, also available from CDOT.  Finally, the Colorado Driver Handbook, produced by the Colorado Department of Revenue, is available online from our library. 

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Online Vehicle Registration Renewal

Did you know that you can renew your vehicle registration online?  There’s no longer any need to send a check through the mail, or stand in line at the DMV (although persons without internet access can still use these methods).  To renew your plates, simply go to the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Online Vehicle Registration Renewal website and follow the prompts.  For more information on motor vehicle registration in the state of Colorado, see the Department of Revenue’s Division of Motor Vehicles website.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Road and Community Safety Act

SB13-251, known as the Colorado Road and Community Safety Act, went into effect on August 1.  According to the Colorado Department of Revenue,

Senate Bill 13-251, The Colorado Road and Community Safety Act authorizes the issuance of a Colorado driver’s license, instruction permit or identification card to those individuals who either cannot demonstrate lawful presence in the U.S. or can only demonstrate temporary lawful presence in the U.S. beginning August 1, 2014.

You can find everything you need to know about the act at this webpage from the Department of Revenue.  The page includes a listing of DMV locations participating in the program; scheduling information; FAQs; forms; fact sheets; rules; and more.  Also on this webpage you can find a link to the new Spanish-language version of the Colorado Driver Handbook, which has just been released for the first time.

Image of the new driver’s license courtesy of Colorado Department of Revenue.