Features - Features

Carriers need to properly equip their tractor-trailers with tire chains before entering Colorado this winter. The skiing industry is a huge moneymaker in the state and there were enough road closures last winter to force pressure to the state legislature and place a new chaining law in effect this season.

Chains must be carried on all commercial vehicles in Colorado using the I-70 corridor from 1 September to 31 May. Penalties have increased significantly. If a trucker drives past the restricted zone-I-70 and I-470 inter-change (mm 259) to Edwards, Colorado (mm 163)-and fails to carry chains during the specified season, it is $50 plus a $17 surcharge. Statewide, once the chain law goes into effect a driver will be stopped if not chained-up and issued a citation for $500, plus a $157 surcharge-total $657. If the driver fails to chain-up and subsequently blocks the highway, they will receive a citation for $1,000 plus a surcharge of $313-a total of $1,313!

Whoa! Additionally, if trucking companies do not pay the fines, the Colorado State Police may now pull the operating registrations for companies, shutting down the driver, and stranding the equipment whereever it may be on the roadside.

Quoting the "Colorado DOT Chain Up Tips" fact sheet, every company that sends drivers through Colorado should inform their drivers of the following information:

  • Notification about the chain law being in effect is available through the electronic signs on the highway, 511 traveler information, on the Internet at www.cotrip.org, and through TV, radio, and newsprint.

          The chains used must be of the type that has not less than nine evenly spaced chain loops across the                   tire tread. Trucks with four drive wheels must carry four chains, however, dual tire chains are acceptable.

  • Alternate Traction Devices (ATDs)-The only approved ATDs in Colorado are wheel sanders which must carry enough sand to get the vehicle through the restricted area and pneumatically driven chains that automatically come on then there is loss of traction.

There are two chain law levels in Colorado:

Chain Law Level 1: All single-drive axle combination commercial vehicles must chain all four drive tires. Cables are not approved as ATDs. All other commercial vehicles must have snow tires or chains. Be aware that Level 1 may be applied to any ascending grade any time there is snow covering any portion of the roadway.

Chain Law Level 2: All commercial vehicles must chain up. Single-drive and tandem drive axle combination commercial vehicles must chain four drive wheels. Auto transports must comply to the extent possible without causing damage to the hydraulic lines. Busses must chain two drive wheels to comply. Level 2 may be implemented any time there is snow covering the entire traveled portion of pavement on an ascending grade or when driving conditions dictate that this level is necessary to protect safety and to minimize road closures.

  • Tire Cables-Colorado chain laws do not permit tire cables as ATDs. These exceptions are: 1) tire cables with high strength steel metal crossover rollers 0.415 inches or greater in diameter, which can be used on all commercial vehicles except single drive axle combinations; and 2) on a tandem power-drive axle commercial vehicles where any type of cable can be used only if there are chains on the two outside tires of one of the power-drive axles and cables on two or more tires on the other power-drive axle.
  • I-70 chain up stations-Westbound mileposts: 263, 260, 254 (Buffalo Overlook) 229, 223, 221, 213 (brake check area) 197. Eastbound mileposts: 178, 183, 184(shoulder), 203(scenic area), 205, 219, 228, 241, 251.
  • Trailers are not required to be chained in Colorado.
  • The chain law ceases when bare descending pavement is encountered, or when the electronic signs cease to display "chain law in effect" information.
  • Hazardous materials transporters placarded for flammable, combustible, or explosives have the authority to drive past chain up areas and install chains where pavement is covered by snow and ice at a safe location outside the traveled portion of the highway.

When traveling into Colorado, further information may be acquired by contacting CDOT at (303) 757-9228. To obtain current road conditions drivers may call the 511 Traveler Information Line, by listening to AM radio 850 KOA, other radio and television stations, and on the Internet at www.cotrip.org.

Remember, it's not "if", but "when" you will be chaining-up! This is the straight skinny to be prepared for operating in Colorado.