Changes to Colorado traction laws in effect this season


Cars drive down the Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. (Photo by Kevin Moloney/Getty Images)

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DENVER– Big weather changes are on the way and so, too, is enforcement of new Colorado traction laws. The legislation was put in place to ensure motorists’ safety.

Slick roads coated in snow or ice present challenges to drivers but AAA has tips to keep cars on the road and within the law.

In addition to common sense practices such as allowing extra time for the commute and keeping an eye on traffic conditions, it’s important to be aware of what it means to drive legally in tricky weather.

Colorado’s new traction laws are particularly significant for drivers on I-70 between Morrison and Dotsero.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has issued alerts regarding the following laws:

Traction Law (Code 15) 

During an active Traction Law , motorists must have either snow tires, tires with the mud/snow (M+S) designation, or a four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicle.

The legislation, which were put in place in August, are aimed at drivers using state highways during winter months. Specifically, it changed the required minimum tire tread for vehicles on snowy roads to 3/16 of an inch. Under the statute, minimum tire tread for dry roads is still 2/16 of an inch. Motorists can also install chains or an alternative traction device (like AutoSock) to be in compliance with the law if your tires aren’t adequate.

Passenger Vehicle Chain Law (Code 16)

During severe winter storms, CDOT will implement a Passenger Vehicle Chain Law (also known as a Code 16). This is the final safety measure before the highway is closed.

When the Passenger Vehicle Chain Law is in effect, every vehicle on the roadway must have chains or an alternative traction device (like AutoSock).


Drivers in violation of the law could be slapped with fines of more than $130. If a vehicle blocks the road because it lacks proper equipment, the motorist could face a fine of more than $650.

The Colorado Department of Transportation serves as a useful resource for staying safe and in compliance with the laws during winter driving.

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