Speed bill aims to reduce road kill

Animals can’t read, so motorists have to do it for them and slow down through areas they frequent, Rep. Kathleen Curry told lawmakers this week.

Although Curry was only partially joking, the matter was brought up on the floor of the Colorado House by opponents of her measure to create wildlife zones along some state roadways.

The unaffiliated legislator from Gunnison wants to reduce the amount of road kill by lowering speed limits and raising fines along Colorado highways that see the most animal deaths.

Some lawmakers who opposed Curry’s House Bill 1238 said those deaths would occur regardless of speed because animals don’t know they should get out of the path of a speeding car.

“Big game won’t be able to tell if you’re driving 30 miles an hour, 40 miles an hour or 60 miles an hour, and quite frankly they won’t care,” said Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling. “They will make their judgment whether to run out in front of you based on their lack of ability to think. I hit just as many deer at low speeds as I do at high speeds. The intentions are good. The bill, however, will not accomplish the purpose.”

Under the measure, which was approved 35-28 Wednesday, the Colorado Department of Transportation would be required to designate certain roadways as high wildlife-migration areas and impose lower speed limits in those areas. Those lower limits, however, would be limited to certain times of the day.

The speed limits would vary depending on what’s already posted, and the zones would be limited to a total of 100 miles of roadways statewide.

The measure would double fines for speeding through the zones during whatever times are established.

“The theory is that if we were going slower, we would have fewer collisions,” Curry said. “I understand the problem with big game not being able to read signs, I get that, but humans can. This bill, therefore, saves lives and dollars and reduces the carnage on the highways.”

The bill, which also is being sponsored by Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, heads to the Senate for more debate.


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