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Insurance Advisors' Newsletter
December 2015

Are You Ready for Winter Driving?

CDOT is Enforcing Traction and Passenger Vehicle
Chain Laws This Year

By Susan Cormier for Insurance Advisors

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IA Team

Many of us aren’t used to being required to have chains or snow tires on our personal cars, despite Colorado’s crazy winter weather. But this year, you really need to pay attention.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will be enforcing Colorado’s traction and passenger vehicle chain laws, which in some cases requires chains or snow tires on passenger vehicles.

While these laws have been enforced on commercial vehicles and tractor-trailers, CDOT has not really enforced them in past winters for passenger vehicles.

With this year’s enforcement efforts, you need to start listening for codes 15 and 16.

If the weather is dicey enough for CDOT to issue a Code 15, the traction law will be enforced and vehicles will be required to have snow tires, tires with a mud/snow designation or a 4-wheel drive vehicle. All tires must have at least 1/8 inch tire tread.

If the weather conditions become even worse, CDOT can issue a Code 16, which is the final safety measure that is implemented before a highway is closed and requires vehicles to have chains or some sort of alternative traction, like an auto sock on the tires.

“We spent last year educating the public about the need for good tires, and they listened, with more than 70 percent saying they checked their tires before traveling in the I-70 corridor,” Amy Ford with CDOT said in a statement. “Drivers should expect in general when they see a chain law required for truckers that the traction law will likely be required for passenger vehicles.”

Those who drive with inadequate equipment during these times could be fined more than $130. Drivers who block the roadway or cause a crash because of their inadequate tires could be fined more than $650.

According to CDOT:

·         One of the worst traffic delays on the I-70 Mountain Corridor in 2014 was caused by unprepared motorists. Severe delays were caused by 22 vehicles spinning out and causing crashes. Of those, 19 vehicles had worn tires.

·         Traffic accidents - not volume - account for as much as 60 percent of all traffic delays. A crash that only takes 10 minutes to clear can delay traffic for an hour. 

·         At 60 MPH on snowy pavement, winter tires require 310 feet to stop. All-season tires require more than double that - 668 feet.

Are Your Tires Safe for Winter Driving?

To make sure your tires are safe for winter driving, you can test your tread, using the Quarter Test. Insert a quarter upside down into your tire tread, with Washington’s head going in first. 

*  If the top of the head is covered by tread, you’re good to go.

*  If the top of his head is visible at any point around the tire (test multiple points), you can’t drive during a Code 15. You also should probably invest in new tires.

There is some good news, if you need new tires. CDOT has partnered with tire companies across the state to offer discounts. The list of companies can be found at https://www.codot.gov/travel/winter-driving/tires.


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