Car tire close up on asphalt road at sunset Photo Credit: deepblue4you (iStock).

Photo Credit: deepblue4you (iStock).

Even though fall might be on the mind, Colorado's winter Traction Law has already been activated.

In 2019, Governor Jared Polis signed House Bill 19-1207 into law, which mandated Colorado's Traction Law be activated from September 1 to May 31 on the stretch of I-70 from Dotsero to Morrison. There's no exception to this during that time frame, even if it's 90 degrees and the skies are clear.

This law requires that all vehicles have a minimum tread depth of at least 3/16ths of an inch on all of their tires.

Drivers must also operate their vehicle under one of the following conditions, in addition to the tread rule:

1. 4WD or AWD vehicle is used

2. Tires have a mud or snow designation (M+S icon)

3. Winter tires are used (mountain-snowflake icon)

4. Tires have an all-weather rating given by the manufacturer

5. Chains or another approved alternative traction device is used

While the Traction Law is always active during the September 1 to May 31 timeframe on the aforementioned stretch of I-70, the law may also be put in place anywhere in the state where winter weather is expected or where winter weather becomes problematic.

The reason the I-70 stretch is an 'always activated' area is to help alleviate delays and crashes on this stretch of road, which sees exceptionally heavy traffic during ski season weekends. This can result in standstill traffic in dangerous conditions and stranding. Anyone who has driven this stretch of road during the unpredictable winter months in Colorado is likely thankful for this rule.

To see if your tires are compliant in terms of tread depth, take a quarter and insert it into the tread upside down. The top of George Washington's head should be covered by the tread at multiple points on each tire. If the top of the head is showing, tires should be replaced.

It's also worth noting that disobeying traffic laws can result in a big fine. If someone is caught driving in non-compliance, the fine can be more than $130. If their non-compliance results in a blockage on the roadway, the fine can increase to more than $650.

In addition to having winter-ready tires, it's also important to keep a number of safety items in your trunk. Here's a recommended list.

Read more about the traction law here.

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