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The purpose of the study is to determine if mandatory snow tires or chains on private vehicles without four-wheel drive can help alleviate traffic congestion along a heavily-traversed passage to local mountain resorts. The study will focus on a section of Interstate 70 between Morrison, near Denver, and Dotsero to the west, near Glenwood Springs- almost 130 miles long.
The snow tire study bill comes on the heels of a bad winter for weather-related traffic congestion in Colorado. One particularly bad day on the mountainous stretch of Interstate 70, workers with the Colorado Department of Transportation had to assist 22 vehicles which had lost control on the slippery highway. Nineteen of those vehicles had bald tires, 18 of which belonged to Colorado residents who knew better than to attempt those weather conditions without road-worthy tires.
Events of that day prompted CDOT officials to issue a blistering message to Colorado residents reminding them to use snow tires, chains, or otherwise properly equip their vehicles for the snowy conditions.
What began as a snow tire ordinance, requiring all non-commercial automobiles devoid of four-wheel drive to carry chains or possess tires with snow-appropriate tread on them, was quickly downgraded to a study.
The bill was met with resistance and misunderstanding. There was confusion about enforcement of the ordinance. One misconception was that checkpoints would be utilized to assess the condition of motorists’ tires. In actuality, the bill called for the issuance of tickets and fines if a motorist caused an accident by not having chains or the proper tread.
Republican Representative Bob Rankin, one of the bill’s sponsors, believes results from the study will reinforce lawmakers’ positions next year.
According to Dan Zielinski, a spokesman for the Rubber Manufacturers Association, no states currently have compulsory requirements for snow tires. However, some enforce the mandatory use of chains during inclement weather.
California and Nevada require weather-appropriate tires for wintry conditions on Interstate 80 on Donner Pass. Oregon and Washington enforce a similar requirement on Snoqualmie Pass.
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