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DENVER (KDVR) — Winter is coming and that means it’s time to make sure your tires are ready to hit that snowy pavement.

Colorado has laws in place to protect you as you head out into the snowy conditions.

Here are the approved winter tire types, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation:

  1. Winter Tires 
    1. Winter tires are safest for snowy and icy conditions and are recommended for driving in winter weather. Tread patterns in winter tires provide extra traction and stability, while rubber compounds help the tire stay soft in cold temperatures for superior grip. All winter tires will have a mountain/snowflake icon and an M+S icon.
  2. All-Weather Tires
    1. All-weather tires are considered safe in winter conditions, particularly conditions with heavy rain, slush or wet snow. Tread patterns in all-weather tires provide extra traction and stability, while rubber compounds allow the tire to stay flexible for various temperatures for grip on both wet and snowy roads and dry asphalt. Thus, all-weather tires are efficient year-round.
  3. Mud and Snow Tires (M+S)
    1. (M+S) tires are all-season tires that provide better starting, stopping and driving performance in snowy conditions than non-M+S tires. M+S tires are acceptable in light snow but are limited to the capabilities of winter tires.

CDOT said all of these tires are Traction Law compliant as long as they have a minimum of 3/16 inch tread depth.

How to check your tire tread

How do you know what level your tired tread is at? There are several tests you can perform on your tires.

According to Goodyear Auto Service, one of the simplest ways is the “penny test”.

“Simply insert a penny into your tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tread depth is less than 2/32 inch and it’s time to replace your tires.”

CDOT also has a database of safe tire partners:

Traction Law

Colorado’s traction law is in effect Sept. 1 through May 31 on Interstate 70 from Dotsero to Morrison.

Bookmark this page for easy access to the rules and handy links for keeping track of road conditions and the weather.

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, these are the rules:

During an active Traction Law, drivers must have one of these:

  • snow tires
  • tires with the mud/snow (M+S) designation
  • a four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicle

The legislation, which was put in place in August 2020, is 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

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.

CDOT serves as a useful resource for staying safe and in compliance with the laws during winter driving.