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Driving You Crazy: What's with the lack of 'No Passing' signs in rural Colorado?

Jeremy from Lakewood feels it makes it very unsafe to pass
Do Not Pass sign
Posted at 4:45 AM, Jul 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-05 09:00:55-04

Jeremy from Lakewood writes, “What’s driving you crazy? One thing that drives me crazy in the more rural parts of Colorado is the lack of "No Passing Zone" signs at the end of passing zones. I've driven all over the west and most states are pretty good about placing "No Passing Zone" signs at the end of a passing zone so you can see where it ends before you begin passing a slower vehicle. I have observed very few of these signs in Colorado. It makes it very unsafe to pass because it is hard to see where a passing zone ends, especially when the pavement markings are worn. Some highways may look straight and safe to pass, but there may be a slight vertical curve that makes it unsafe to pass. When coming upon these, it is often hard to see that the passing zone has ended until it is too late. I think this is a major safety issue and probably contributes to many unsafe passes and possibly terrible accidents.”

The pennant-shaped yellow and black no passing zone sign is probably the most unique of all the road signs. Another interesting fact that makes these signs unique is that no passing zone signs are always located on the left side of the road, facing the driver from across the roadway rather than placed on same side of the road. No passing zone areas are most often placed on one lane highways.

When drivers enter a no passing zone, it means they are not allowed to pass vehicles directly ahead of them in the same lane. If drivers started passing another vehicle and see a no passing zone ahead, they are required to complete passing before entering the no passing zone.

Most commonly, the no passing zone sign is placed in areas drivers have limited sight distance, like before hills or curves where drivers cannot see far enough ahead to pass safely. The sign is also accompanied by a solid yellow line on the driver's side of the road throughout the entire no passing zone area. A dashed yellow line on the driver’s side of the road indicates passing is allowed when it can be accomplished safely.

MORE: Read more traffic issues driving people crazy

When asked why there aren't more no passing zone signs on state highways, the Colorado Department of Transportation said it follows the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which says the signs are optional.

“Engineers evaluate safety on every roadway," traffic engineer San Lee said. "Colorado has a large amount of passing zones and works to use every dollar wisely to advance safety. CDOT evaluates the need for these types of signs and strategically places them based on considerations that include sight distance and historical crash data.”

Driving You Crazy: What's with the lack of 'No Passing' signs in rural Colorado?

In reality, the state saves a bunch of money by not putting up these signs since they are optional. The price to create a no passing zone sign ranges between $150 and $225 each. When adding the cost of the sign with the cost of the pole to hang it on and the cost for the labor to install them along just one highway, CDOT believes that money can be better spent elsewhere.

The only exception would be where CDOT or local law enforcement sees a significant safety or crash risk. Typically, in most of those places, a sign already exists.

Anyone who feels there is a specific need for a sign where there is a significant safety risk is asked to report it to CDOT on their Questions/Comments/Concerns page.

By the way, illegally passing in a no passing zone is covered in Colorado revised statute 42-4-1005. It states doing so is a class A traffic infractions punishable by a $15 to $100 fine, a surcharge and points. Since they are civil and not criminal, class A traffic infractions carry no jail time, but failure to pay the ticket will trigger a driver’s license suspension.

Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 25 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunes , Stitcher , Google Play or Podbean.