Do Passenger Vehicles Need Chains in Colorado?

Snow is in the forecast, and that means many people are planning their next trip to the slopes. Unfortunately, driving in winter conditions without the required equipment can lead to a car accident. That’s why we have passenger vehicle traction and chain laws on our mountain roads.

Passenger Vehicle Traction and Chain Laws

Passenger vehicle traction and chain laws can be put into effect when weather conditions are severe. These laws can be implemented on any state highway, but they are most common on mountain roadways that have steep ascending and descending grades. Drivers of passenger vehicles, crossovers, SUVs, and small trucks all need to comply or else face citations and fines.

According to CDOT, passenger vehicle traction law requires that all motorists must 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

Passenger vehicle chain laws are straightforward. They state that vehicles must have either tire chains or approved alternate traction devices (ATD) installed on two or more of the drive tires.

You will be alerted to an active traction law or chain law by highway signage. However, you can also visit and use the interactive map to search your trip route for these active laws.

Colorado Traction Law Updates 

Gov. Jared Polis signed House Bill 19-1207 into law in 2019. It updated the traction law to increase the minimum tread depth required for tires on all passenger vehicles to 3/16”. It also made it so that, from September 1 to May 31, the traction law is always active on I-70 from Dotsero to Morrison. Drivers familiar with the older rules should keep these changes in mind. 

Injured in a Winter Car Accident?

Failure to comply with traction and chain laws may impact your legal claim in the event of a crash. If you were injured in a winter car accident, call 303-993-8685 for a free case evaluation. Jeffress Law, PC serves clients from Boulder, Longmont, Broomfield, and nearby Colorado areas.


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