Colorado’s Tandem Snowplow Law

In Colorado, it is illegal to pass a snowplow operated by a state, county, or local agency when the truck is displaying its lights and operating in an “echelon formation” with one or more snowplows. Also referred to as House Bill 19-1265, Colorado’s Tandem Snowplow Law gives the right-of-way to a snowplow operating with at least one other snowplow. Failure to obey this law is considered a Class A traffic offense.

What is Echelon Formation?

When snowplows operate in “echelon formation,” also called tandem formation, multiple plows are arranged diagonally, with each snowplow stationed behind and to the right, or behind and to the left, of the truck ahead. This staggered formation allows the snowplows to cover all lanes and clear the entire roadway in one sweep.

Colorado's Tandem Snowplow Law Echelon formation
Credit: Colorado Department of Transportation

What Are the Penalties for Violating the Tandem Snowplow Law?

A motorist who violates Colorado’s Tandem Snowplow Law is subject to fines ranging from $15-$100, plus a surcharge. According to CDOT, the Colorado DMV may also add points to the offender’s driver’s license.

The Dangers of Passing the Plow

The Tandem Snowplow Law was enacted in 2019 to make winter driving safer for everyone in Colorado. It is very dangerous for drivers to try and pass plows operating in tandem because of the white-out conditions and ridges of snow they produce while in service.

In addition to never passing a snowplow in tandem formation, Colorado’s Department of Transportation urges motorists to avoid two other dangerous driving maneuvers for their own safety and for the safety of others:

  • Never tailgate a snowplow. Plows drop de-icer and sand to treat Colorado highways during a snowstorm. Drivers who follow too close risk damage to their vehicle from the de-icer and sand. Snowplows can also stop abruptly. Motorists should leave plenty of room (at least 3-4 car lengths from a plow) to avoid a potentially serious collision.
  • Never pass on the right. Snowplows are designed to push the snow, slush, and other damaging debris like rocks to the right of a roadway. Attempting to pass a plow on the right could not only damage a vehicle but also obstruct visibility.

The Car Accident Attorneys at SettleUp

Our auto collision attorneys help clients throughout the state of Colorado, including Denver, Aurora, Boulder, Arvada, Greenwood Village, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs. If you’ve been injured in a bus, car, scooter, or motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call the car accident attorneys at SettleUp at 303-399-3235, or contact us here for a complimentary evaluation of your case.