Winter Driving

Safety Tips

  • Slow Down! Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly. Even roads that have been treated with liquid de-icers may be slippery.
  • Don't use cruise control when traveling in winter conditions.
  • Be prepared! Have a scraper, snow brush, coat, hat, gloves, blanket, first aid kit, flashlight, tire chains, matches and nonperishable food in your car.
  • Be sure to carry plenty of windshield wiper fluid as liquid de-icers used to treat the roadways may stick to your windshield.
  • Make sure your tires have good tread.
  • Let the snowplow drivers do their jobs by giving them extra room.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
    Drive slowly.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.
  • Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
  • Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.

Winter Tire Tips and Chain Laws for Drivers

Equip your car with safe winter tires

Bald or worn out tires cannot grip the road and can be extremely hazardous - think of tires as your lifeline in a car; the few square inches of rubber contacting the pavement is all that is between you and potential trouble.

Want to know if you need 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 Washington'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.

Follow Colorado's Chain Laws

When a Chain Law is in effect, you must have:

  • Snow tires with minimum 1/8" tread, or
  • All weather tires with mud and snow (M/S) mark with 1/8" tread, or
  • Four-wheel drive with 1/8" tread, or
  • Traction device (chains, auto-sock, etc.)

Signage along the highway will alert drivers when a Chain Law is in effect.