Passenger Vehicle Traction and Chain Laws Explained

Lakewood, Colorado Personal Injury Lawyer Serving Denver, Boulder, and Nearby Areas

Posted: December 16, 2021

Safe winter driving is all about being prepared. That can mean checking the weather conditions before you get behind the wheel, knowing your vehicle’s capabilities, and taking other important steps to avoid a car accident. In Colorado, it also means obeying the traction and chain laws.

What is the Colorado Traction Law?

The passenger vehicle traction law applies to all vehicles that weigh less than 16,001 pounds. Included in that definition are crossovers, SUVs, and small trucks. CDOT states that, during a traction law, all drivers of passenger vehicles are required to have either:

  • 4WD or AWD vehicle and 3/16” tread depth
  • Tires with a mud and snow designation (M+S icon) and 3/16” tread depth 
  • Winter tires (mountain-snowflake icon) and 3/16” tread depth 
  • Tires with an all-weather rating by the manufacturer and 3/16” tread depth
  • Chains or an approved alternative traction device

You can find a full list of approved alternative traction devices on the CDOT website. Some options are the AutoSock from McGee Company and EasySox from Quality Chain Corporation.

What is the Passenger Vehicle Chain Law?

Much like the passenger vehicle traction law, the passenger vehicle chain law applies to all vehicles weighing less than 16,0001 pounds. It requires motorists to have tire chains or alternative traction devices (ATD) installed on two or more drive tires. Using chains in compliance with the chain law is critical to the safety of everyone traveling on the road. 

Are Traction Laws in Effect in Colorado?

The passenger vehicle traction law is always active on I-70 between Dotsero and Morrison from September 1st to May 31st. Otherwise, passenger vehicle traction and chain laws are implemented by CDOT when the weather conditions warrant them. Often, these laws are active on mountain roads with steep grades. However, they can be implemented on any state highway.

Is It Illegal to Not Have Snow Tires in Colorado?

It is not illegal to drive without snow tires in Colorado. However, it is unlawful to proceed when a restriction is in effect without carrying the required traction equipment or installing the required chain/ATD equipment. Violators are subject to citations, fines, and surcharges. In the event of a motor vehicle accident, proceeding without the required equipment could hurt any legal claim.

Get Free Legal Help After a Winter Car Accident

Our experienced attorneys know how traction and chain laws can impact your accident case. Call 303-237-7373 to schedule a complimentary car accident consultation. The Frickey Law Firm serves clients from Lakewood, Denver, Boulder, and nearby areas of Colorado.