The same thing that makes winter recreation fun can make winter roads dangerous. When driving through Colorado, it’s important to know winter road laws and regulations. Safety and knowledge about winter travel on mountain roads can save lives. Follow Colorado’s Department of Transportation regulations on your way to travel responsibly this winter. 

During severe storms, CDOT will implement the Passenger Vehicle Traction Law on any state highway. This means that motorists must have either:

  1. 4WD or AWD vehicle and 3/16″ tire tread depth
  2. M+S tires (mud and snow) and 3/16″ tread depth
  3. Winter tires (M+S icon designation) and 3/16″ tread depth
  4. Tires with an all-weather rating by the manufacturer and 3/16″ tread depth
  5. Chains or an approved traction device. 

Chains vs. AutoSocks 

Both chains and AutoSocks are acceptable traction devices in Colorado. AutoSocks work with a fibrous textile penetrating the surface of the snow to create traction. Chains differ by compressing the surface of the snow to create traction. Consider which device is best suited for you and your vehicle. 

Tire Designations

Winter tires are verified as the safest tires for driving in wintery conditions. They differ from summer tires in their composition and tread patterns. Rubber compounds keep the tire soft with a better grip, and tread patterns provide traction and stability.

All-weather tires are suitable for year-round use and winter conditions. They will provide traction in heavy rain and slush and stay flexible for various temperatures on snowy and dry roads. 

Mud and snow tires can be used for all seasons and perform better in snow than non M+S tires. They do have limited capabilities in heavy snow. 

Reference CDOT’s winter travel guide for additional questions and research. 

With the right equipment and knowledge, winter travel doesn’t have to be limiting. This winter, look out for your loved ones and fellow travelers by maintaining your vehicle’s tires and traction devices. Stay safe, and travel responsibly this winter.