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New rules take effect for driving in winter conditions

by | Dec 5, 2019 | Blog, Denver Activities

When the snow flies, it’s tempting to jump in the car and head for the hills. But before you go, it’s important to know the rules of the road.

Last spring, the Colorado legislature updated a “Traction Law” already in place for vehicles driving sections of I-70 from September to May. Signed into law by Governor Jared Polis, the rule applies to passenger cars and is meant to ensure the safety of drivers during tough conditions.

“Some drivers may feel safety closures and traction law enforcements are an inconvenience at times, but these processes are not meant to burden Colorado drivers,” said Andrew Hogle, CDOT Public Information Officer in a press release. “Traction Laws and highway safety closures are implemented to improve the safety of all drivers and passengers.”

Indeed, Hogle told 5280 magazine that many crashes and traffic jams are caused by drivers heading up to the mountains on their summer tires. “It’s not necessarily everyone with out-of-state plates, and it’s not necessarily the type of car you’re driving. It’s the type of tires that make the most difference.”

The Traction Law now in place includes these stipulations:

  • Motorists must have an all-wheel/or four-wheel drive vehicle or all-season tires with a mud/snow designation. If they don’t, they must carry chains or alternate traction devices on I-70 between Morrison and Dotsero from Sept. 1-May 31.
  • Tires on all vehicles must have a minimum tread depth of 3/16ths of an inch. This is up from 1/8th of an inch previously.
  • Vehicle owners failing to meet these requirements will be given a citation and a $100 fine with a $32 surcharge. If they have caused a closure of one or more traffic lanes, the fine increases to $500 with a $156 surcharge.

Remember: the law is there to protect you and the hundreds of others on the road this winter. “You can’t necessarily prevent all crashes, but you can account for making sure your vehicle is ready for winter conditions,” Hogle told 5280. “So, if we can minimize those kinds of unnecessary delays, I think we’ll see travel time speed up quite significantly over the season, at least that’s our hope.”

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