Colorado is experiencing a crazy population boom— and to all of the newcomers, we say welcome! While we love having new neighbors, we don’t love seeing them struggle with the icy, snow-filled roads. Driving in the winter can be stressful for some people, but don’t worry. These helpful tips will keep you safe on wintry roads.

Preparing Your Car or Truck for Winter

Once the temperatures begin to drop, you need to stock your car or truck with a winter driving survival kit. These kits contain necessary materials including an ice scraper, a snow shovel, and salt to help defrost the road. You can also keep sand in your kit to put on the roads and add traction. Having a winter driving survival kit already prepared and right where you need it will save you the time and energy you need to deal with the season.

Throughout winter, always keep your gas tank at least half full. You never know when a blizzard can block access to petrol, and if you ever get stuck or stranded, a half tank means you can keep the car on, run the engine, and stay warm. Another great tip is replacing your windshield wipers if they need it and refilling the windshield fluid. Good windshield wipers and fluid will clear snow and ice from impeding your vision while you drive.

Tires and Safety

In the state of Colorado, drivers are required to have certain tires that can handle snow in order to comply with the Passenger Vehicle Traction Law (Code 15). These types of tires include:

  • Snow tires with a minimum of 1/8” tread
  • All-weather tires with mud and snow (M/S) mark with 1/8” of tread
  • Four-wheel drive with 1/8” of tread
  • Traction devices (chains, autosock, etc.) for two drive tires

Those who do not comply with the law are subject to fines up to $650. These restrictions aim to reduce the amount of traffic accidents caused by snow as well as the amount of lives lost in these accidents.

Speed and Space in Winter

Speed limits are the maximum amount allowed to go on dry roads. If it is snowing or icy, you do not have to reach that limit. In order to stay safe, reduce your driving speed and increase the amount of space between your vehicle and others on the road. Don’t use cruise control when the weather is nasty, either. You want to have as much control over your vehicle as possible in case you end up hydroplaning.

Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is never a good choice, but it can be especially dangerous in the winter. Controlled substances limit your ability to judge speed, distance, and depth perception. Combine that impairment with the added dangers of snowy or icy roads, and you are putting your life and other people’s lives in danger.

If You Get Stuck

If you find yourself in a situation where your vehicle breaks down or you are stuck, stay in your car and wait for help to come to you. To stay warm, you can run the car for 10 minutes every hour– but make sure your tailpipe is completely clear of blockage. If snow is blocking the pipe, deadly carbon monoxide can build up in your car. When running the engine, crack open a window ever so slightly just in case.


Driving in Colorado winters can be a bit daunting– in particular for the thousands moving to the state who have never had to drive in winter conditions before. To stay safe, prepare your car or truck with an emergency kit. In the state of Colorado, drivers are required to get snow tires or tires that can handle dangerous conditions in the same way. Remember that the speed limit is determined for dry roads– go slower when there is snow and keep more distance between your car and other vehicles. Finally, if you get stuck, stay in the car but be wary of keeping the engine on for more than 10 minutes per hour in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Written by
Mark Conner with Drive Safely