In our previous blog post, we discussed the traffic tickets you could potentially face for traffic violations while driving in the State of Colorado. While it is important to be a responsible, defensive driver at all times to avoid a ticket, doing so during the winter months in Colorado is not always the easiest of endeavors. Unfortunately, unsafe driving practices that may have resulted in a simple ticket during the summer can cause much more danger with winter road conditions. Keep reading to learn about driving during the winter in Colorado. We’ll explain our chain laws as well as provide some basic winter driving safety tips from our Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney.
Colorado Chain Laws
One of the most important things to be aware of while driving in Colorado during the winter is our Passenger Vehicle Traction and Chain Laws. At any time between Sept. 1 and May 31, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) can put traction and chain laws into effect due to dangerous weather and/or road conditions, mandating certain vehicle requirements in order to legally drive on certain roads, particularly mountain roads that tend to ascend or descend quickly. When a traction or chain law has been put into effect, drivers are alerted via road signage or online at COtrip.org.
Passenger Vehicle Traction Law Code 15
A Code 15 mandates the following vehicle requirements:
- Snow tires OR mud/snow (M+S) tires OR a four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicle.
- All tires at a minimum of one-eighth inch tread.
- Inadequate tires fitted with chains or alternative traction devices.
A Note on All Season Tires
Your all season tires WILL be in compliance with Code 15 if your vehicle is four-wheel/all-wheel drive and all tires have at least one-eighth inch of tread. All season tires WILL NOT be in compliance if on a two-wheel drive vehicle or if not rated for mud and snow (M+S designation).
Passenger Vehicle Chain Law Code 16
A Code 16 mandates the following vehicle requirements:
- ALL vehicles must have chains or alternative traction devices.
- This safety measure is the last one CDOT will make before closing the roadway.
*Please see this page on the official website of the Colorado State Patrol for commercial vehicle chain law information.
Basic Winter Driving Safety Tips
Now that we’ve discussed the relevant laws, let’s talk safe driving during Colorado’s winter season. One of the most terrifying questions we Colorado natives get from friends and family who visit during the winter is this: “Is snow driving the same thing as typical driving?” As a matter of fact, no; snow driving is NOTHING like typical driving except that you still use the gas pedal to go. If you’ll be visiting our beautiful state during the winter season, we hope you’ll take the following advice to heart in order to keep yourself and everyone else on the roadways safe.
One of the most important things you can remember while driving on snow or ice is to keep your speeds low. 30 miles per hour may seem like a snail’s pace when the interstate is dry, but you’ll find that it is much more difficult to stop on snow than it is to stop on asphalt, and even 30 miles per hour can prove to be way too fast. Try changing your mindset to keep your speeds low. It’s not about how fast you can get away with going without losing control of the vehicle. It’s about not exceeding the speed at which you can control your vehicle as it is stopping. Trust us, these speeds will not be the same.
In addition to watching your speed, keep these tips in mind:
- Avoid sudden stops, lane changes, and turns.
- Tap your brakes to get traction. DO NOT slam on your brakes.
- A road that appears clear may be hiding black ice.
- During a snowstorm, use your lowlights for better visibility.
- If you skid, don’t panic, and don’t brake. Steer through and out of it.
- Be patient. Being in a hurry will not help you drive in snow.
- Visit an empty snow-packed parking lot to practice your skills!
Failing to Comply
As the years progress, Colorado law enforcement takes traction and chain laws more and more seriously as accidents continue to result from a lack of compliance. Fines for failing to comply to these laws can range from $130 to $650, but we hope you would take these laws seriously even if there were no possible fines. Colorado traction and chain laws are all about safety, so comply, and be safe!
Car accidents during the winter season are many. If you’ve been charged with careless or reckless driving or another driving offense in one of the counties below, contact our criminal defense attorney.
We can help you with your case in El Paso, Teller, Eagle, or Summit Counties.