Road rules

State officers, ranchers discuss highway regulations

Local farmers and ranchers spend a lot of time behind the wheel, so knowing the rules of the road are important to them.

Three years ago, the federal government tightened rules for truckers and the hours they are allowed behind the wheel each day. The new rules affected farmers and ranchers hauling livestock and feed.

Because of the rules, the Moff--at County and Routt County Farm Bureaus organized a mot--or carrier safety and regulatory seminar Monday at the Colorado State University Moff--at County Extension Office to address those issues.

Twenty farmers and ranchers from across the valley attended to get updates about rules that could save them from being ticketed on state highways.

Sgt. Mark Savage of the Colorado State Patrol said the rules didn't make sense when dealing with drivers hauling hay and corn. He said the State Patrol was getting complaints from the Cattlemen's Association and the Colorado Farm Bureau.

"I'm a trooper, not a rancher," Savage said. "I've got to keep up on the rules and balance that with public input. Our main goal is to reduce accidents."

Savage said having farm plates doesn't exempt drivers from regulations but that State Patrol officers sometimes are more lenient with farmers.

"Things like the daily vehicle inspection report -- we can overlook that with agricultural haulers," Savage said.

Savage and Capt. Gary Tor--gerson, also with State Patrol, conducted a safety inspection on a truck-trailer rig that one of the attendees had driven to the seminar. They pointed out possible highway violations.

"I'm looking at lug bolts and your tires, tire pressure and marker lights," Savage said. "Is the load secure? Can I see your tail lights?"

The impromptu inspection led to discussions about vehicle weight and required Colorado Department of Transportation registration numbers, as well as fire extinguishers required on vehicles more than 10,000 pounds.

The Colorado Farm Bureau, with help from the State Patrol, holds these seminars across Colorado to keep farmers and ranchers informed about highway regulation changes. It's at seminars such as this that public input is recorded as a factor in lawmaking.

Savage said input from the public and the Farm Bureau was a factor that led President Bush to sign a bill in August that exempts farmers from some of the strict rules faced by truckers.

"This is good to have all these people at one meeting -- troopers, farmers and ranchers," Savage said. "Folks need information to be safe on the highway."

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