Know The Laws About Traction
By Master Trooper Gary Cutler, Colorado State Patrol
It’s that time of year again, so we need to address snow storms and driving in them. This year there has been some confusion with the new traction laws that travelers will be facing. So I’m here to help answer some of those questions.
Most of the focus for the traction law has been about I-70 in the mountains, but this can pertain to any of Colorado’s roadways that the state is responsible to maintain. Let’s start from the beginning; commercial vehicles are required to have chains on their vehicles from September 1st. through May 31st on I-70 between milepost 133 (Dotsero) and milepost 259 (Morrison) but this part does not pertain to passenger vehicles.
Now let’s look at passenger vehicles. As a driver of a passenger vehicle you will need to be aware when traction law is being implemented. The state will usually put this information on Variable Message Signs (VMS) along the roadways, or on CDOT’s web page. When this happens you need to be concerned with Code 15 and 16 which pertain to all passenger vehicles. The traction law will usually be implemented when you see snow starting to accumulate on the roadway. Code 15 is the first level which basically says passenger vehicles need to have at least one-eighth inch of tread on all tires. You will also have to have either snow tires, tires with the mud/snow (M+S) designation, four-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive.
When Code 16 is implemented, this is a last-ditch attempt to keep the roadway open. So now there will be a larger amount of snow on the roadway and means all vehicles will need to have chains or an alternative traction device (ATD) such as Autosocks. It doesn’t matter if have four-wheel drive; you need to have chains on your tires.
Now earlier I mentioned passenger cars are not required to carry chains or ATD’s in their vehicles during the aforementioned time frame, but here’s the kicker. If the chain law is enacted after you are in the mountains you will not be able to access the roadway and may have to wait until the chain law is lifted to get to your destination. So if you don’t plan on carrying chains or ATD’s make sure you plan ahead prior to making your trips into the mountains.
The traction laws will be enforced and if you have inadequate equipment during the traction law you may be fined more than $130. If you fail to comply with the mandatory chain law and you end up stuck and blocking the roadway you may be fined more than $650.
The reason for the chain law is for safety and not to inconvenience other drivers by having vehicles that are ill-equipped for the weather and road conditions which end up blocking other travelers.
I hope this has helped out some of your question my office has been fielding the past few weeks. As always, safe travels!
Close to Home
Construction at US Highway 24 and the Mountain View Drive intersection continues. Motorists can expect to encounter a four-way stop, 24/7, until the new signals are installed, which may be in November 2019. Expect intermittent single-lane closures at the intersection as well during daylight hours, Monday through Friday. Please note that this intersection is still slated to become a signaled four-way intersection and NOT a round-about as other reports have suggested.
As per the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), specific improvements for the $1.2 million project include:
- replacing existing span wire signals with mast arm signals;
- upgrading push buttons and signals for pedestrians
- upgrading sidewalks to meet Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements at all four corners of the intersection;
- including ADA-compliant curb ramps;
- improving storm drain inlets; and
- widening westbound US 24 to provide a new deceleration/acceleration lane into and out of the new development.
For Commuters: Minturn Roadway Improvements
American Civil Constructors and CDOT continue to work on the completion of the US 24 Minturn Roadway Improvements project. This week the concrete crew will install more barriers just north of town in the area where rockfall mitigation was performed. On the south end of the project, crews are finalizing the three walls and continuing with curb & gutter work on both sides of the street heading towards town. The final crew will be installing signage throughout the project. Weekday traffic control will not begin until after 9 a.m. and may require single lane closures with flagger directed alternating through traffic with potential holds of up to 15 minutes. ACC may also shift traffic in certain areas so please stay alert and watch for the directional cones during work hours. ACC will be working 6 days a week from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.