DENVER (KDVR) – As the Colorado Department of Transportation conducts winter preparedness checkpoints for commercial vehicles, there are no such checkpoints for passenger vehicles. So, the department is sending out a reminder to be prepared ahead of the winter season.

It’s essential to know the difference between the traction law and the chain law.

Since Governor Polis’ executive order was implemented in 2019, the traction law is now in effect from Sept.1 to May 31 along Interstate 70 between Morrison and Dotsero.

The traction law requires you to have one of the following:

  • 4WD or AWD vehicle and 3/16” tread depth
  • Tires with a mud and snow designation (M+S icon) and 3/16” tread depth
  • Winter tires (mountain-snowflake icon) and 3/16” tread depth
  • Tires with an all-weather rating by the manufacturer and 3/16” tread depth
  • Chains or an approved alternative traction device

Additionally, this traction law can be enacted on any other highway.

The chain law applies to everyone and means everyone no matter what kind of car you have has to have some sort of traction device in their tires. The implementation of this law is usually the final step taken before a highway is closed completely.

“If you do feel uncomfortable and scared to drive on the highways during a winter storm,” Sellers explained, “if you can, just try to wait out the storm. We really want to make sure that everybody is safe.”

CDOT said drivers with inadequate equipment when a traction law or chain law is in effect could be fined more than $130.

Now, if your vehicle blocks the roadway because they have inadequate equipment, you could be fined more than $650.

“Sometimes if you’re going too slow, you can also cause a dangerous situation for motorists on the roadway. Of course, don’t go too fast either. Again, you create a dangerous situation on the roadway,” Sellers said.

Sellers said crashes and highway closures have a ripple effect statewide.

“Especially on I-70, in the I-70 corridor, we see a lot of crashes just because we have so many motorists going up to do winter recreation. And anytime that the interstate closes, we’re looking at about a million dollars hit to the economy every hour that Interstate is closed,” said Sellers.

Visit CDOT’s passenger vehicle traction and chain laws page to get the full breakdown ahead of the winter season.