7 Colorado Traffic Laws Drivers Commonly Ignore

Colorado drivers often overlook basic rules of the road, such as passing on the left and slower traffic having to keep right.

As a Colorado driver, you’re likely familiar with the state’s many traffic laws. But even the most law-abiding drivers can sometimes forget about a regulation or two.

While some of these violations may seem minor, they can actually lead to costly fines and even car accidents. Here are seven Colorado traffic laws that drivers commonly ignore. Keep these in mind the next time you hit the road, and be sure to obey them for everyone’s safety.

Further reading:

1. Colorado Slower Traffic Keep Right Law: The “Move Over” Rule

If you are moving slower than the normal speed of traffic, Colorado law requires you to drive in the right lane. When a right lane is not available, you must drive as far to the right as you can. You can exit the right lane if you need to pass another vehicle or make a left turn.

On roads with a speed limit of 65 mph or more, you can’t drive in the left lane except to pass or turn left.

Any vehicle proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle or when preparing for a left turn.

CO Rev. Stat. § 42-4-1001

A person shall not drive a motor vehicle in the passing lane of a highway if the speed limit is sixty-five miles per hour or more unless such person is passing other motor vehicles that are in a nonpassing lane or turning left, or unless the volume of traffic does not permit the motor vehicle to safely merge into a nonpassing lane.

CO Rev. Stat. § 42-4-1013

2. Colorado Flow of Traffic Law: The “Minimum Speed” Rule

The Colorado traffic code prohibits driving so slowly that you interrupt the normal traffic flow on a road. It also allows the authorities to set a minimum speed limit if slow vehicles consistently interfere with the movement of traffic in a specific location.

You are allowed to drive slowly if you need to do so for safety reasons or to obey the law. This means that you don’t have to speed just because everyone else on the road is.

No person shall drive a motor vehicle on any highway at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable forward movement of traffic, except when a reduced speed is necessary for safe operation of such vehicle or in compliance with law.

CO Rev. Stat. § 42-4-1103

3. Colorado Driving in Left Lane Law: The “Passing on the Left” Rule

When you pass another vehicle in Colorado, you must do so on the left side. Make sure that you don’t return to the right lane until you have safely cleared the car you’re passing.

On a two-lane road, you must wait until the left lane is sufficiently clear of traffic before you pass. You also must return to the right lane before coming within 200 feet of an approaching vehicle.

The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle shall pass to the left of the vehicle at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.

Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on audible signal and shall not increase the speed of the driver’s vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

CO Rev. Stat. § 42-4-1003

No vehicle shall be driven to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle unless such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be completed without interfering with the operation of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction or any vehicle overtaken.

The overtaking vehicle must return to an authorized lane of travel as soon as practicable and, in the event the passing movement involves the use of a lane authorized for vehicles approaching from the opposite direction, before coming within two hundred feet of any approaching vehicle.

CO Rev. Stat. § 42-4-1005

4. Colorado Rear-End Collision Law: The “Following Too Closely” Rule

Under Colorado law, you cannot follow another driver more closely than is reasonable and prudent. What is considered a reasonable distance depends on road and traffic conditions and the speed of travel.

The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.

CO Rev. Stat. § 42-4-1008

5. Colorado Mobile Phone Driving Law: The “Hands-Free Driving” Rule

Colorado minors cannot use wireless phones at all while driving. Drivers who are 18 and older can make calls, but they cannot use a cell phone to send texts or otherwise enter or send data. There is an exception to both of these rules for emergencies.

A person under eighteen years of age shall not use a wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle.

A person eighteen years of age or older shall not use a wireless telephone for the purpose of engaging in text messaging or other similar forms of manual data entry or transmission while operating a motor vehicle.

This shall not apply to a person who is using the wireless telephone to contact a public safety entity or during an emergency.

CO Rev. Stat. § 42-4-239

6. Colorado Four-Way Intersection Law: The “4-Way Stop” Rule

In Colorado, if two vehicles arrive at a four-way stop at the same time, the right driver gets to go first. The vehicle on the left must yield the right-of-way.

When two vehicles approach or enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.

CO Rev. Stat. § 42-4-701

7. Colorado Left Turn Intersection Law: The “Right of Way” Rule

When making a left turn, Colorado traffic laws require you to yield the right-of-way to oncoming vehicles if they are in the intersection or are close enough to hit you. You must wait until oncoming traffic passes through the intersection to turn left.

The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.

CO Rev. Stat. § 42-4-702

Although it’s easy to forget about the rules of the road when you’re driving, it’s important to remember that these laws are in place for a reason. If you are caught breaking one of these Colorado traffic laws, you could face fines and other penalties. By obeying the law, you can help make our roads safer for everyone.

Amy Grover is a licensed attorney in the state of Ohio. After graduating magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, then passing the bar exam in 2014, Amy began her diverse career as a practicing attorney. Amy has a range of experience in the legal field, including work with the Department... Read More >>