Colorado State Patrol ‘Pacer Cars’ on Interstate 70 in Colorado – Do they work?

This is what being at the top of the mountain is all about. Look at it. Early in the morning the clouds part to reveal breath-taking views.

You have to stop and admire the beauty and majesty of it before you step into your bindings and set off down the mountain.

This morning at Keystone was beautiful. It was serene. Not too crowded, not too cold and a coating of fresh snow. What could be better?

Unfortunately the ride back is not serene. Interstate 70 cannot handle the traffic. The famous Ski Resorts in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado attract millions of tourists, so why is none of the money generated by tourism spent on this crucial mountain highway?

 

 

I am in my fifties, and traveling up to the mountains at the weekend to snowboard, and then driving back in the same day is exhausting for me. If the traffic weren’t so bad, I would make the trip every couple of weeks.

Every five or six weeks, I check into ‘The Keystone Lodge and Spa’ with my husband and we are able to snowboard for a couple of days without being stuck in a car on the Interstate. I purchase the ‘Epic Pass’, at the cost of over $500, which allows me to snowboard Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Vail and Beaver Creek, I would love to take advantage of each and every resort, the only thing that deters me is the dreadful Interstate 70. Traveling to and from Vail and Beaver Creek for the day is out of the question because the journey can take anything up to five hours and who wants to waste half of their weekend sitting in traffic?

Colorado Department of Transport and the State Patrol decided the cheap answer to fix the traffic problem on Interstate 70 was to have ‘Pacer Cars’. These cars are supposed to help the flow of traffic and reduce accidents. I don’t think they work.
Since these pacer cars were introduced, I have travelled to the mountains twice.

In January we traveled back from Keystone early on a Sunday afternoon and the traffic barely moved. When it did move the speeds were erratic. The pacer cars seemed to be making things worse. It was one of the worst journey’s I had ever experienced. Snow and bad weather conditions were not a factor. It was a clear sunny Sunday afternoon.

Today, we left Keystone at around 10:30 am. We could see the pacer car ahead of us. It was inhibiting the natural flow of the traffic. It was only 10:30am and the traffic wasn’t even that heavy so why would they need a pacer car?

Somewhere near Georgetown, for no apparent reason, the traffic came to a sudden halt. Why? Did the pacer car stop? I am not sure because I was too busy trying not to run into the car ahead of me, who was trying not to hit the car ahead of him. I glanced in my rear view mirror and knew the car behind me was going to hit me. I braced myself.

I was lucky! The driver behind me knew exactly what was doing and although he couldn’t avoid running in to me, he turned his wheel so he didn’t hit me full on. Instead he clipped the snowboard rack on the back of our car. We both found a spot to pull over and luckily for all of us, there was no damage.

This man was clearly shaken, as he had his wife and kids in the car, and we all thought about ‘what could of happened’.

When we established there was no damage, and everyone was OK he said.

“We set off early to avoid the pacer cars. They have made the traffic so much worse”

This is the very first accident I have ever had on Interstate 70 and I have been traveling up to the mountains for around 14 years. In my opinion the pacer car is not a solution to the problems on this Interstate. I believe it makes the journey worse and not better. 

I would love to hear other people’s experiences with this new system. I personally think it is a waste of time and money, but if you can prove me wrong, I would love to hear from you.

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