In a continuation of last winter’s push for tire tread education, the Colorado Department of Transportation will partner again this winter with Colorado State Patrol to increase awareness and enforcement of passenger vehicle traction laws.
CDOT communications director Amy Ford said that in a survey from last year, 70 percent of the public said they had checked their tire tread before travelling through the Interstate 70 mountain corridor, and 46 percent said they purchased new tires.
“We really wanted to build the base of knowledge,” Ford said. “This year, we are gonna put even more emphasis on traction law and chain law for passenger vehicles.”
As the law currently stands, when CDOT implements passenger vehicle traction laws due to a snowstorm or icy conditions, passenger cars traveling through the corridor must have snow tires, all-season tires, chains or an autosock. If a car is in an accident or spins out and does not have one of these features, the driver may be fined $250.
“What the public is going to see this coming winter is the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol in full force and pulling some passenger vehicle codes way more than they used to in the past,” Ford said. “If we are requiring chains on commercial vehicles, chances are we (are) going to require chains on passenger vehicles.”
Passenger vehicle chain laws, which are implemented less frequently, will also be enforced. The law requires all passenger vehicles, regardless of tire type, to be chained during the worst of road conditions. Ford said the passenger chain law was only implemented twice last year, as it is usually enforced shortly before road closures.
In addition, both CDOT and CSP will offer discounts on snow tires throughout the state. In Summit County, a 10 percent discount will be available at Big O Tires through March, with a flyer distributed by state troopers.
“Winter tires are sometimes a tough sell because they don’t have mileage ratings on them,” CSP Corporal Greg Manning said. “The advantage comes when the temperature goes down and the rubber stays softer than an all-season tire.”
In addition, he added that the tire treads are shaped to move snow and slush away from the wheel, as well as provide better traction.
“If you live up here, you’re fairly aware of what you’re gonna encounter during the winter,” he added.
In addition to CDOT’s efforts, Colorado representatives will once again push for an I-70 tread law that was proposed last January. While the bill passed the Colorado House in the 2015 legislative session, it was reduced to a study under the Senate Transportation Committee. The bill will be reintroduced in the 2016 legislative session under Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat.
“Most of us who live on the corridor, talking to the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol, realize need for this bill,” said I-70 Coalition program manager Margaret Bowes. “This time around, the plan is for it to be clearer that this traction bill is intended to clarify existing state statutes.”
The sole change would be that rather than waiting for CDOT to implement a Code 15 (passenger vehicle traction law), winter tires, all-season tires or alternative traction devices would be required for passenger vehicles between mile markers 133 and 259 during icy or snowy conditions.
“I think majority of I-70 passengers have no idea what passenger chain law exactly is,” Bowes said. “This clarifies the existing laws and will direct CDOT to do some more education around the issue.”