18 Nov 2016
As the season for snow and ice is upon us, visitors to the mountains are often concerned about winter driving conditions. In an effort to keep drivers safe, the Colorado Department of Transportation offers simple guidelines for your vehicle’s tires – because when it comes to stopping in wintery conditions, nothing is more important than your tires.
When the Traction Law is in effect, motorists will need to have snow tires, tires with the mud/snow (M+S) designation, or a four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicle. This means that a front-wheel drive vehicle with the all-weather/ all-season tires does not meet the requirement unless the tires have a mud and snow rating. To make sure your tires meet the requirements, look for the snowflake, “M+S” or “M&S” (mud and snow) designation on the sidewall of the tire. Most all-terrain tires meet the requirements but it is always safest to make sure your vehicle is equipped with the correct ratings. Although both metal-studded and studless snow tires are in compliance with the law, CDOT recommends using studless tires as studded tires wear more on the roads and can create dangerous hydroplaning situations.
During severe winter storms, CDOT’s final safety measure before closing the highway is to implement the Passenger Vehicle Chain Law. During a Passenger Vehicle Chain Law, all vehicles on the roadway are required to have chains or an alternative traction device, no exceptions. If the Passenger Vehicle Chain Law goes into effect while drivers are on the road, those without chains will be ticketed and required to wait until the chain law is lifted.
To show how serious CDOT is about keeping roadways safe, minimum fines of $650 are issued for blocking the roadway due to a lack of proper equipment. CDOT wants motorists to know: drivers with inadequate tires are a danger to not only themselves, but everyone else on the road.
Because of these new, more stringent guidelines, we are encouraging all visitors to the mountains to travel in properly equipped vehicles. If you are renting a vehicle, be sure to request a 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle. If you are driving, be sure to either have the proper tires or prepare in advance by purchasing a set of chains for your vehicle. Follow these guidelines and you will be able to travel safely to your mountain home away from home!