Checking tire treads is a must before driving in perilous winter conditions.

Quarter tire tread test, courtesy CDOT

Colorado Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush (D-Steamboat), will reintroduce a tire tread bill that passed in the Colorado House and was reduced to a study during the 2015 legislative session, Elise Reuter writes for SummitDaily. She quotes Margaret Bowes, I-70 Coalition program manager, as saying most people who live on the Interstate 70 mountain corridor know such a bill is needed:

This time around, the plan is for it to be clearer that this traction bill is intended to clarify existing state statutes.

Passenger Chain Law

The proposed Colorado law would require passenger vehicles between I-70 mile markers 133 and 259 to be equipped with winter tires, all-season tires, or alternative traction devices in icy or snowy weather conditions, without waiting for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to implement a Code 15 (passenger vehicle traction law). Current law requires that when CDOT implements passenger vehicle traction laws, passenger cars traveling through the corridor must have snow tires, all-season tires, chains, or an “auto sock.” Drivers of cars in violation of that law can be fined $250 if their vehicle is in an accident or spins out.

The new law will clarify existing laws, and will direct CDOT to educate the public about traction, Bowes said, noting that most I-70 passenger car occupants do not know what “passenger chain law” is.

CDOT Communications Director Amy Ford said CDOT and the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) will be out in full force this winter, “pulling some passenger vehicle codes” a lot more than in recent years. And if the officials are requiring that commercial vehicles have chains, it is likely that they will also require chains on passenger vehicles, she said. The law provides that when the roads are at their worst because of wintry weather, passenger vehicles have chains on their tires. Such chain laws are implemented less often than the tread law, usually right before the department announces road closures — only twice last year.

Discounts on Snow Tires

To help consumers, CDOT and CSP will be offering snow tire discounts statewide, Reuter writes. Snow tires are different from all-season tires because when the weather gets colder, snow tires’ rubber stays softer, CSP Cpl. Greg Manning said.

CDOT reports on its website that in one day last winter, the department helped 22 vehicles that had spun out of control, blocking traffic or causing an accident. And it turned out that 19 of those vehicles had bald tires, CDOT writes.

Do Your Tires Have Enough Tread?

Amy Ford told Reuter that last year, 70% of those surveyed said they had checked their tire treads before driving through the I-70 mountain corridor, and 46% said they had bought new tires. The department offers the following tips for how to know if your car needs new tires:

Take the Quarter Test

  • Insert a quarter into the tire tread upside down, with Washington’s head going in first
  • If the top of George’s head is covered by the tread, your tires are OK — do this test at multiple points around each tire
  • If the top of his head is visible at any point around the tire, you need new tires
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