Motorists Asked to Use Caution, Be Prepared
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) advises travelers to use caution and plan ahead as an end-of-year winter storm will impact many areas of the state today and tomorrow. This storm will bring snowfall to much of Colorado through Saturday, with southwest and northeast Colorado seeing higher accumulations. Strong northerly winds are expected to develop on Saturday, leading to areas of blowing and drifting snow, with considerable travel impacts possible.
Motorists should expect heavy traffic volumes on most roadways due to holiday travel. CDOT urges travelers to be prepared not only for possible delays but also winter driving conditions. Extreme caution is advised if driving in the mountains. While packing vehicles with gifts and suitcases, make sure there is room for an emergency kit. Emergency kits should include chains/alternative traction devices, water, sand/cat litter, flares, jumper cables, blankets, etc.
Motorists are urged to take it slow, leave a safe space behind the vehicle ahead, don’t pass plows and avoid driving during the height of a storm. Drivers should anticipate safety closures due to unsafe driving conditions. CDOT and the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) make every attempt to hold traffic in areas where services are available. While safety closures are more likely on mountain passes, they can happen on any roadway deemed unsafe for travel. Conditions at closure points may seem drivable, however, CDOT and CSP are keeping drivers away from areas with extreme conditions. Do not go around closure points and use extreme caution when using GPS suggested alternate routes to get around safety closures.
- Southwest Colorado: Heavy accumulations of snow will continue throughout the day today, as southwest mountain passes will see ten to 18 inches of new snow. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for the southwest San Juan Mountains through 5 a.m. on Saturday. Travel could be difficult to impossible.
- The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has also issued an avalanche watch for the southern San Juans. Avalanche danger is expected to be high due to heavy snowfall and strong winds. These conditions may call for avalanche control operations on US 160 Wolf Creek Pass; US 550 Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain Passes; and CO 145 Lizard Head Pass. High country travelers can expect delays. Visit COtrip.org for road condition and avalanche control operations alerts.
- Northern Colorado: The northern plains will see significant impacts from this storm. The I-70/ I-76 corridor will likely see snow accumulations on Saturday between five to ten inches, with wind gusts expected over 40 mph. This will reduce visibility on the roadways. Motorists should be prepared for roadway closures and challenging driving conditions.
- I-70 Mountain Corridor: I-70 will see snowfall rates increase overnight tonight with total accumulation of three to six inches.
- Front Range and I-25 corridor: Motorists should expect snow on the Front Range and I-25 corridor on Saturday, with moderate impacts. Depending on the storm’s track, accumulations may fluctuate. Denver Metro will see colder temperatures and two to four inches of snowfall is possible. The I-25 Gap project may see snow totals higher than the urban corridor, especially between Castle Rock to the crest of the Palmer Divide. Motorists are advised to avoid or limit driving on I-25 between Castle Rock and Colorado Springs, particularly on Monument Hill during the storm. Safety closures are possible depending on the severity of the storm. Most crashes in this area occur due to driving too fast for the conditions, following too closely and vehicles not having the appropriate tires for the weather. I-25 Raton Pass in southeast Colorado could see snowfall in the area of four to seven inches. Wind will be a factor with this storm with gusts exceeding 30 mph, east of I-25.
As an alternative to driving in the mountains this weekend and for greater peace of mind, motorists will be able to take advantage of CDOT’s recently introduced Snowstang. Snowstang will provide Saturday and Sunday roundtrip bus service between Denver and the Loveland Ski Area, Arapahoe Basin, Steamboat Resort, and Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs.
For all three lines, passengers can board at Denver Union Station or the Denver Federal Center. Roundtrip tickets for Loveland Ski Area and Arapahoe Basin start at $25. A roundtrip to Steamboat Springs (Steamboat Resort and Howelsen Hill) is $40.00. Additional discounts will be available for seniors and children. To purchase tickets, visit www.ridebustang.com or download the Bustang® mobile app, JustRide Bustang, for iOS or Android.
Operated by Ace Express Coaches, LLC of Golden, Snowstang™ coaches carry 51 passengers, are climate controlled, and have Wi-Fi access, a restroom, USB and power outlets. Let Snowstang do the driving and parking for you.
Chain and Traction Laws
CDOT urges travelers to be aware of chain and traction law codes before heading out on the roadway.
Code 18/Commercial Chain Law: Commercial vehicles and trucks must have chains. Vehicles without chains can often lose traction, causing traffic delays and sometimes road closures. For the safety of the traveling public, it’s critical to use chains to be in compliance with Colorado’s chain law.
Code 15/Passenger Traction Law: All passenger vehicles must have appropriate all-weather tires with 3/16-inch depth. Vehicles must have one of the following: winter tires, tires with mud/snow (M+S) designation, chains or alternative traction devices such as an autosock. 4WD and AWD vehicles must have winter tires or all weather tires.
Code 16/Passenger Chain Law: All passenger vehicles need chains, except for 4WD and AWD vehicles with all-weather tires with 3/16 inch tread depth.
Know Before You Go
CDOT winter driving tips downloadable flyer: WinterWise Driving Tips
Road conditions and travel information: www.COtrip.org
Chain and traction law information: www.codot.gov/admin/travel/winter-driving/tractionlaw
Sign up for project or travel alerts: bit.ly/COalerts
See scheduled lane closures: codot.gov/travel/scheduled-lane-closures.html
CDOT has approximately 3,000 employees located throughout Colorado, and manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway and 3,429 bridges. CDOT also manages grant partnerships with a range of other agencies, including metropolitan planning organizations, local governments and airports. It also administers Bustang, the state-owned and operated inter-regional express service. Governor Jared Polis has charged CDOT to further build on the state’s inter-modal mobility options.
Impaired Driving: More Than You Think
How often do you ask yourself if you are driving impaired? I know you’re asking why you would ask yourself that if you are not drinking. But are you actually impaired and don’t realize it? Think of it this way, have you ever driven when you were tired or just drove while daydreaming? Let’s take a look at this idea.
The official definition of Driving While Ability Impaired is driving a motor vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of both alcohol and one or more drugs, that affects the person to the slightest degree so that the person is less able than the person ordinarily would have been, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.
So when you drive when you’re tired and having trouble keeping your eyes open just because you are trying to make it to your destination, isn’t that impairment? Have you ever been driving and found yourself daydreaming? Ever wondered how you drove so far when you came out of your daydream? See. It’s becoming a little clearer.
Let’s go back to part of the above definition: affects the person to the slightest degree so that the person is less able than the person ordinarily would have been, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.
I know that when I am tired, I qualify under the definition of impairment. I am not in a position to be doing actions in which greater concentration is needed. That’s especially true when driving. I know that my motor skills are going to be lacking. I may not see things in front of me. It will take me longer to react to situations and I may not make the right choice due to having what I like to call a brain fog from being too tired.
When patrolling the roads, I have come across people weaving, driving slowly, and going through stop signs all because they were too tired to drive. When I talked with the drivers, all of them had the same attributes of someone that has been drinking. So I ask you, how many of you would never think about drinking and driving, but have gotten behind the wheel and drove while tired? The outcome can be the same; you won’t get a DUI or go to jail, but you may get a ticket or be involved in a crash.
So make sure you are awake and aware enough to drive prior to getting behind the wheel. If you are on a trip and start feeling tired, take the time to give yourself a break. Get something to eat, exercise, get some fresh air, or if it’s bad enough get some sleep.
The next time you’re about to get into your car, stop first and ask yourself if you are too tired to be driving. You owe it to your passengers as well as the other drivers on the road not to have a brain fog.
As always, safe travels!