SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– This winter, drivers may be subject to a little-known law that requires them to meet certain criteria when driving Interstate 70 through the mountain corridor– Code 15.

Last week’s winter storm caught many drivers by surprise but the Colorado Department of Transportation I-70 Mountain Corridor Operations Center said they are ready.

“We are using every resource we have to keep traffic moving safely and even trying some new strategies this season that seem to be helping,” said CDOT spokesman Patrick Chavez.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

CDOT trucks equipped with push bumpers are being dispatched to respond to spun out or stuck cars that block the interstate. Chavez says a gentle nudge will keep the rest of traffic moving and in the long run keep the interstate open for more time.

“If you have one car (stopped) can have a trickle down, once you have vehicles stop on a steep grade coming up to the mountains, it becomes difficult for them to start moving again,” Chavez added.

CDOT also plans on issuing a Code 15 with more frequency this winter. The obscure law allows CDOT to require all passenger traffic to either have 4-wheel drive, snow tires, or chains if they are traveling the mountain corridor.

There are efforts underway by some lawmakers, with support from Gov. John Hickenlooper, to make Code 15 into a permanent winter-time law in Colorado. A similar measure failed to pass the state legislature last session, but supports say they will try again this year.

Multiple vehicles involved in a crash on eastbound lanes of I-70 just west of Denver (credit: CBS)

Multiple vehicles involved in a crash on eastbound lanes of I-70 just west of Denver (credit: CBS)

“We are of course very supportive of the legislation to make it mandatory,” said Chavez.

Under Code 15, a driver who does cause a traffic backup and is not prepared with proper winter gear on their vehicle, could face hundreds of dollars in fines by the Colorado State Patrol.

Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to mrkroschel@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.

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