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5 safety tips for chaining up in Colorado

Winter driving in Colorado comes with a whole set of new challenges for commercial vehicle drivers. Roads are already getting slippery and clogged with snow. As most Colorado commercial drivers know, the state has chain laws that come into effect starting September 1st. The result of ignoring chain laws will not only cost you a big fine but could land you in a ditch.

Colorado chain laws apply to all commercial vehicles that weigh 26,001 lbs or more. If you want to skip the $500 to $1000 fine, then make sure to chain up your tires. Another motivation is to prevent accidents. The following tips can help you stay safe through the season.

Tip 1: Practice now

If this will be your first time chaining up commercial vehicle tires, you will want to practice. It is important to know the steps before you are out in the cold, snow or dark night, trying to chain up. All commercial vehicles will need to have four or more drive wheels covered. You can find the chain and cable requirements in the Colorado Tire Chain Requirements Guide. There is nothing worse than trying to figure out how to chain up for your first time along a busy and dangerous road.

Tip 2: Inspect your chains

Whether you take the time for a practice round or not, you should always make sure to check the chains for damage. Lay the chains down flat and inspect them for any breaks or kinks. Even a little bit of damage can place you in violation. Dented links can mess up your instillation and cause tire damage. A blown tire in a snow storm could lead to a dangerous accident and injuries.

Tip 3: Always be ready - especially on I-70

Some drivers say that if you need chains then you shouldn't be driving. This is not an option for truckers who live in a snowy state like Colorado. Colorado commercial vehicle drivers must be prepared at all times until May 31st for inclement weather. Truckers travelling on I-70 between mile marker 133 in Dotsero County and mile marker 259 in Morrison County will be carefully monitored for installed chains. Luckily, there are several chain up sites along I-70 if you need to install them last minute.

Tip 4: Know the difference between levels 1 and 2

There are two levels of the chain law in Colorado. If level 1 goes into effect, that means that single drive axle, combination commercial vehicles need to have all four tires chained up. All other commercial vehicles will need either snow tires or chains. Level 2 means that chains are required on all commercial vehicles. Single-drive tractors must have all four tires chained while dual-drive tractors only need four drive tires chained. If you do not have the proper resistance on your tires in heavy snow, you could easily get stuck.

Tip 5: Don't wait until it's too late

Glowing signs will tell you when you need to chain up this winter. The roads will already be accumulating snow when the warning signs come on. If you know that heavy snow or ice is in the forecast, then chain up your tires ahead of time. It will be a lot harder to chain up at a stop along I-70 in a snowstorm.

Unfortunately, even when drivers have taken all precautions, slippery road conditions can still cause accidents and even put drivers at risk while they are chaining up. Most truckers who are injured in accidents are eligible to file for workers' compensation to cover the cost of injuries. Hopefully, you can avoid needing to file a claim now that you are ready to chain up this winter.

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