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What Colorado drivers need to know about Codes 15 and 16

Colorado has some of the most stunning mountains in the world. During the winter, those mountains can make for treacherous driving. Colorado's Interstate 70 has been named among the most dangerous roads in the country.

If you don't have the proper vehicle -- and the appropriate equipment on your vehicle -- you're putting yourself and others on the road in serious danger. You're also running the risk of getting stuck and keeping others on the road from getting where they need to go.

If this will be your first winter in Colorado, it's essential to know about two Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) codes that will be implemented during severe snowstorms or when conditions otherwise warrant.

Traction Law (Code 15)

When a Code 15 is in effect, all motorists on the road must be in a vehicle with four-wheel/all-wheel drive or a vehicle that has one of the following:

  • Tires designated for mud and snow (M&S)
  • Snow tires
  • Alternative traction device
  • Chains

Passenger Vehicle Chain Law (Code 16)

This is the safety measure that CDOT will take as a last action before closing a road. It requires every vehicle to have either an alternative traction device or chains.

Failure to comply with these important safety measures when CDOT announces that they're in effect can be costly. If you're caught without the appropriate vehicle or equipment, you could be fined over $130. Further, if you become stuck and are blocking the road, you could have to pay over $650 in fines.

Having the proper tires on your vehicle can also help prevent crashes. As one Colorado State Patrol officer says, "Traffic crashes -- not volume -- account for 60 percent of all traffic delays."

Even if you take all proper precautions and comply with these codes when they're activated, other drivers aren't always so responsible. If you suffer injuries in a vehicle crash caused by another driver, find out what your legal options are for seeking compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages and other damages.

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