DENVER (CBS4)– Drivers hit the roads on Thursday morning with the first measurable snow in Denver since Oct. 9. That has the Colorado Department of Transportation reminding drivers to prepare for icy roads and slippery conditions.

“Too often in Colorado, we’ll enjoy a period of mild weather with no significant snow, and then when we do receive snowfall, many drivers are unprepared and that becomes a dangerous situation on Colorado roads,” said Stacia Sellers, Region 1 Communications Specialist, in a statement. “We’re asking everyone to prepare for the next blast of winter weather by taking the time to check your tires, become familiar with the Traction Law and heed our safety tips for a successful winter driving season.”

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CDOT is offering the following list of tips and guidelines for Colorado drivers to be winter ready:

  • Check your tires

o   Worn tires can’t grip the road well and can be extremely hazardous. Check your tires by preforming the Quarter Test. Insert a quarter into the tire tread upside down, with Washington’s head going in first; if the top of George’s head is covered by the tread, your tires are OK (do this test in multiple points around each tire). If the top of his head is visible at any point, you need new tires.

o   Invest in safety by getting a set of snow tires. When it comes to stopping safely on snow and ice, all-season tires simply don’t compare to winter tires (see infographic).

o   If your tires don’t have at least a one-eighth inch tread when a Traction Law is called, you are in violation of the law and could end up with a fine.

  • Leave extra room

o   Leave extra room between your vehicle and others on the road at all times.

o   Even vehicles with four-wheel/all-wheel drive will not stop any quicker on icy roads, especially if you have inadequate tires.

  • Drive for conditions

o   In poor visibility, don’t drive faster than you can see ahead. High speeds in poor visibility can lead to dangerous chain reactions.

  • Bow to the plow

o   Snow plows need space to work, so unless you want to cause a crash, delays or be stuck on a snow-covered road, don’t crowd the plow!

o   If you must pass a snowplow, do so on the left and with extreme caution.

  • Be I-70 smart

o   Check to see travel forecasts for the I-70 mountain corridor, road updates, rideshare and parking information, deals on lodging, food and entertainment for travelers and more.

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o   Remember to avoid peak travel times whenever possible and consider carpooling or alternative transportation.

  • Have a plan

o   If you are stuck in a serious storm, do not leave your car. Run the engine periodically and wait for help.

o   Prepare a winter driving vehicle kit. Carry blankets, water, a flashlight, a shovel, some nutrition bars or other food for sustenance. Winterize your vehicle’s safety kit by including extra blankets, sand to help gain traction in the event you become stuck on ice or snow, jumper cables and an ice scraper.

Additionally, all motorists should be familiar with Colorado’s Passenger Vehicle Traction Law and Passenger Vehicle Chain Law. These laws are implemented when weather and road conditions require it, at which time highway signage will be activated to alert drivers.

  • Traction Law — When the Traction Law is in effect, motorists must have snow tires, tires with mud/snow (M/S) designation, or a four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicle — all tires must have a minimum one-eighth inch tread.
  • Passenger Vehicle Chain Law — Reserved for severe winter conditions as the final safety measure before an interstate is closed, the Passenger Vehicle Chain Law states that every vehicle on the roadway must have chains or an alternative traction device (like AutoSock).

Without proper equipment, you can be fined $130. If your vehicle blocks the roadway, you could be fined more than $650.

“Winter driving safety is a two-way street,” said Sellers. “CDOT will use snowplows, courtesy patrol vehicles and numerous operations systems to keep Colorado’s roads safe this winter, but we need drivers to be prepared and do their part as well. It only takes one person with bad tires to throw everything off.”

CDOT plow operators will be out hours before a snow event applying an anti-icing product to help slow down ice and snow accumulation on the roadway. As a result, motorists will see white stripes as they drive. Once snow is in the area, they will use the blades of their plows to scrape off snow and ice and will apply deicing products to help protect motorists. Plow operators will not be off snow shift until after the storm leaves the area. Motorists are reminded that just one spunout vehicle can slow down CDOT’s snow fighting efforts.

To learn more winter driving tips and about the strategies CDOT implements during winter storms, visit To find roadway conditions and closures, view CDOT’s traveler information site at or call 511 from anywhere in the state.


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