Dangerous driving conditions can prompt officials to impose ‘traction laws’
EAGLE COUNTY — The Interstate 70 mountain corridor is one of Colorado’s most highly-traveled corridors, and traffic increases during busy times such as Presidents Day weekend.
The corridor is also frequently subject to dangerous winter weather driving conditions. Between October and December 2018, the Colorado Department of Transportation activated a Code 15, or traction law, 76 times because of dangerous driving conditions. During this period, 63 spinouts or slideoffs, 167 crashes and 29 mechanical issues were reported — resulting in more than 22 hours of lane-blockage time.
“Presidents Day weekend is a good time to reflect on our efforts so far this season to keep the I-70 mountain corridor and other highways in the state safe and remind drivers about the laws and measures in place to protect them when it comes to winter driving,” Kyle Lester, director of maintenance at CDOT, said. “Our various operations teams — from the snowplow drivers on the front lines to those working in the traffic operations centers in Golden and the Eisenhower Tunnel — work tirelessly throughout the winter to ensure the safety of everyone on the roads.”
When the traction law is in effect, motorists must have either snow tires, tires with the mud/snow (M+S) designation, tire chains, an alternate traction device or a four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicle. All tires must have a minimum one-eighth inch tread. Motorists will be alerted to an active traction law or chain law by highway signage, on COtrip.org or traffic/roadway condition alerts.
“Some drivers may feel safety closures and traction law enforcements are an inconvenience at times, but these processes are not meant to burden Colorado drivers,” said Andrew Hogle, CDOT Public Information Officer. “Traction Laws and highway safety closures are implemented to improve the safety of all drivers and passengers.”
Highway safety closures were implemented 84 times on Interstate 70 between October and December 2018. A safety closure is a precaution taken during inclement weather to reduce the probability of traffic incidents, increased congestion or other safety-related factors. During a safety closure, traffic may be stopped on the interstate, turned around or directed to an exit.
Safety closures help decrease delay times, and, above all, keep travelers safe.
Drivers should be prepared for adverse weather driving conditions continuing through Sunday morning in western and southwestern Colorado. Mountain passes on U.S. 550 between Durango and Ouray, areas along Interstate 70 west and in west central and northwestern Colorado could see another three to five inches of snowfall. Winds will be strong enough to create blowing snow and reduced visibility, especially at the higher elevations.
For specific information about Interstate 70 and other highway travel conditions, motorists can call 511 or check cotrip.org. Additionally, drivers can check Twitter for up-to-date travel information via @ColoradoDOT. For more detailed information about the traction and passenger vehicle safety laws, safety stats and frequently asked questions, visit winter.codot.gov/TractionLaw.