Denver CO, Dec. 2018 – Winter road conditions can quickly get very rough in the Rocky Mountains. The Colorado Department of Transportation is ready to implement Traction Laws as weather conditions demand. In severe winter storms CDOT will also implement a Passenger Vehicle Chain Law, the final safety step before ordering road closure. All vehicle tires must have a minimum of one-eighth inch tread to operate on Colorado roads.
What is a traction law?
When weather events create dangerous driving conditions CDOT may issue a Traction Law. Under a Traction Law every vehicle must have snow tires or designated mud/snow (M+S) tires, or be an all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle. Traction Laws violators may receive fines in excess of $130. A driver whose vehicle blocks the road due to a lack of required safety equipment under a Traction Law or Passenger Vehicle Chain Law can face fines of $650 or more.
Passenger Vehicle Chain Laws
During severe winter storms, CDOT may enforce Passenger Vehicle Chain Laws, the most serious step before road closure. All vehicles are required to have tire chains in the car while driving when Passenger Vehicle Chain Laws are in effect, or face a fine. Vehicles with an alternative traction device, such as AutoSock, are exempt from the chain requirement.
Check Your Tread
You can check the tread on you own tires any time with a simple quarter test:
• Place a quarter in the tire tread with Washington’s head facing down
• Look for the top of George’s head
• If his head is covered by tire tread, your tires are good
• Check at multiple spots around each tire
• If the top of George’s head is above the tread your tires should be replaced
In winter driving, being prepared makes all the difference. The worst road delays of 2014 came from unprepared drivers. Twenty-two vehicles spun out and crashed, with 19 of those motorists driving on worn tires.
Don’t Stop by Accident
Tires make a tremendous difference in your vehicle’s stopping power. On snowy roads at 60 mph, winter tires will bring your car to a stop in about 310 feet, while all-season tires will leave you sliding more than twice as far, up to 668 feet in the same conditions.
During busy winter traffic it is important to remember that it is crashes not traffic volume that slows down the commute the most. About 60 percent of traffic delay results from clearing up crashes. A wreck that takes just 10 minutes to clear will linger for an hour of traffic delay.
The best time to get ready for tough winter driving conditions is now. Check your tires and consider getting snow tires as well as tire chains to carry in your vehicle. To help drivers get ready for winter driving, CDOT has partnered with tire companies around the state to offer discounts. Learn more at winter.codot.gov/tires and get ready for the snow and ice today before you slide into trouble.