Colorado could make winter tires, AWD, or chains mandatory on Interstate 70

April 13, 2019

Motorists traveling through Colorado could face penalties this fall for traveling a section of Interstate 70 in winter without all-wheel drive, winter tires, or snow chains.

The Colorado Sun reported Monday that a bill in the state would require drivers to have prepared for winter weather to travel on I-70 between Morrison and Glenwood Springs, a roughly 150-mile stretch of mountainous road. The bill would require drivers be prepared for winter's worst weather between September and May, sunshine or snowfall.

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Similar bills have failed to gain traction in the past, but a new amendment has given the bill bipartisan support. The bill instructs the Colorado Department of Transportation to look at ways to enforce the law, which could include physical police checkpoints on the road. Currently, Colorado is able to enact its "traction law" to meet some criteria to travel, but the regulation has been far from effective in recent years. The state has also noted an uptick in traffic on I-70 during the busy skiing season.

Not only is the new bill about protecting drivers from the worst conditions, it's also about the economy. Local businesses reportedly lose hundreds of thousands of dollars when the interstate is closed for extended periods of time due to crashes or incidents on the mountain road.

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If the bill passes, drivers found not complying will be hit with a $100 fine and $32 surcharge. If a driver is involved in a crash that closes one or more lanes of the interstate, and the vehicle does not meet the regulations, the fine jumps to $500 and a $156 surcharge, per the bill as it stands.

Colorado would become the first U.S. state to mandate winter tires or other traction aids. In North America, only Quebec requires snow tires in season.

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