How to Prepare for Winter Driving in Colorado

cars driving on highway in snowy weather

Colorado is famous for its snow. The mountains draw thousands of winter sport enthusiasts every year, and the Rockies are the subject of movies, books, and music. Without a doubt, wintertime in Colorado is beautiful and fun. 

What you probably won’t hear about in songs is the hazardous driving or the seemingly unending traffic that occurs during the winter months in Colorado. Snow is difficult to drive in, regardless of experience. Even Colorado natives find themselves gripping the steering wheel every now and then. 

That being said, accidents can and do happen. However, there are steps you can take to prepare your vehicle and reduce your chances of being injured in a car accident.

Inspect Your Tires

If your tires are worn, it is critical that you replace them before the first snow hits. Tire treads should be at least 3/16” to maintain adequate traction in any condition. Use the penny test to determine if you need to replace your tires. 

Alternatively, you may consider purchasing snow tires, especially if you are going to be driving consistently in the snow. 

If your treads are in good shape, it’s time to check the air pressure. The ideal air pressure for your tires will be listed on a label on the inside of the driver’s side door or in the owner’s manual. Check the tire pressure when the car is cold for the most accurate reading.

Top Off Fluids

Make sure your brake fluid and coolant levels are topped off. Check the oil and replace it if necessary. Your engine will be working harder in the snow, so making sure these levels are refreshed will keep it from wearing out. 

A full gas tank is also a good idea, even if you are only going a short distance. In the event you get stuck, you will want extra gas to keep the car warm while you wait for help.

Prepare for the Worst

In the event that your car breaks down in the snow, you will want to make sure your vehicle is stocked with certain items to keep you safe while you await help. Keep the following items in your car at all times:

  • Warm blankets
  • Extra water
  • Non-perishable food, like granola bars or trail mix
  • Sunscreen
  • Spare tire
  • Jack
  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper
  • Extra coolant/antifreeze
  • Jumper cables

It is also a good idea to invest in a portable power bank for your smartphone. Charge it every night and bring it with you whenever you travel. 

Tips for Snow Driving

Driving in snow takes practice. A good rule of thumb for safe driving in general is to be predictable. This applies especially to snow driving. When the roads are snowy and icy, use the following measures:

  • Accelerate slowly and maintain a slow-to-medium speed. 
  • Pay extra attention to upcoming situations. If a light is turning yellow or you are approaching a Stop Sign, brake much sooner and more gently than you would under normal circumstances.
  • Take turns slowly
  • Do not attempt to change lanes by speeding up
  • If your car starts to slide, focus on the road in front of you, not in the direction of the slide. If your front wheels are slipping, ease off the gas to get better traction. If the rear wheels are sliding, steer the car into the direction of the slide to help the car right itself. 

Colorado Laws for Driving in Snow

During winter storm warnings, the Colorado Department of Transportation may issue certain requirements for motorists on the road. Traction Laws will be enacted first, followed by Passenger Vehicle Chain Laws in the event of severe conditions. 

Traction Laws stipulate that vehicles must have either:

  1. AWD/4WD and at least 3/16” tread depth
  2. Mud and Snow (M&S) designated tires and 3/16” tread depth
  3. Winter tires (with snowflake icon) and 3/16” tread depth
  4. All-weather rated tires and 3/16” tread depth
  5. Chains or approved alternative traction device

Passenger Vehicle Chain Laws are the last resort before roads are officially closed. When PVC Laws are in effect, all motorists must equip tire chains or an approved alternative traction device. 

If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and are found to be in violation of these laws while they are enacted, you will receive an additional citation. Fines for blocking the road due to inadequate equipment while the laws are in effect can be as much as $650.  

What Should You Do If You Are Injured in a Car Accident?

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to the negligence of another, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced attorneys at Roth Milne can help you file your claim and seek additional damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, and more. Call our office today for your free consultation.