Colorado's Traction Laws: Preparing Now For Winter Storms

While Colorado is still firmly in the grips of fall weather, winter is headed to the Rocky Mountain region.  With winter in Colorado comes heavy snow and that means Traction Laws can be put into effect. 

Traction Laws in Colorado are codes put into enforcement during or just ahead of a severe winter storm that can affect driving conditions.  Failure to follow these codes can result in a ticket and hefty fine if you subsequently slide off the road and need to be rescued or block traffic while stuck. 

Colorado last activated the traction code in March of 2016 when a heavy blizzard shut down most of Denver.  See below for the codes, what they mean for you, and what you need to do to prepare.

Traction Law (Code 15) — Use George’s Head to Check Your Tread

•   If weather conditions require, CDOT will implement a Traction Law.

•    Under a Traction Law, motorists will need to have either snow tires, tires with the 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 (Code 16) — Chain Up or Stay Off

•   During severe winter storms, CDOT will implement a Passenger Vehicle Chain Law — this is the final safety measure before the highway is closed.

    Under a Passenger Vehicle Chain Law, every vehicle on the roadway is required to have chains or an alternative traction device (like AutoSock).


•   Motorists driving with inadequate equipment during a Traction Law or Passenger Vehicle Chain Law could be fined more than $130.

•   If a motorist blocks the roadway because they have inadequate equipment during a Traction Law or Passenger Vehicle Chain Law, they could be fined more than $650.

 Traffic Facts

    At 60 MPH on snowy pavement, winter tires require 310 ft. to stop. All-season tires require more than double that (668 ft.).

    In 2014, one of the worst traffic delays on the I-70 Mountain Corridor was caused by unprepared motorists. Severe delays were caused by 22 vehicles spinning out and causing crashes — 19 of those vehicles had worn tires.

    Traffic accidents — not volume — account for as much as 60 percent of all traffic delays.