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Navigating Colorado’s I-70 In the Winter

view through a snowy windshield on a four-lane highway

Navigating Colorado’s I-70 Highway During Snow Season

Although the 2021 winter season started unseasonably warm, Boulder and surrounding areas are preparing the roads for the expected annual snowfall. Traction laws are already in effect for certain stretches of I-70, and drivers are encouraged to stay alert to the changing conditions that may warrant more caution.

It often seems that the first major snowfall results in many drivers forgetting the extra caution that is needed after the beautiful, but dry, fall season. Drivers new to Colorado, or even seasoned veterans of the mountains, should understand the dangers that may come with it. Read on to learn more about why all motorists should drive safely this winter when using Colorado’s most famous highway.

Why Is I-70 Challenging?

I-70 is a major interstate that covers 2,151 miles from Utah to Maryland. With over a quarter of this going through Colorado, it is often considered a travel essential for many around the state. As a major cross-country highway, I-70 is often the most direct route for trucks, RVs and passenger cars. Additionally, much of this highway goes directly through the Rocky Mountains, making it unavoidable when traveling to many ski resorts, and certain stretches are only one to two lanes wide. I-70 goes through different mountain passes and can have steep and winding terrain.

With this comes increased congestion during rush hour and peak ski season, drivers who are inexperienced with driving on snow and ice, and other seasonal or construction hazards that may pose a risk.

How is This Managed?

It's not uncommon for Colorado drivers to receive alerts that portions of I-70 have been closed due to weather or severe crashes. Because of this, the Colorado Department of Transportation annually monitors the traffic on this road and employs safety metering when necessary. Other management techniques from the state include:

  • Snowplow escorts
  • Closing I-70 to commercial vehicles
  • Staging tow trucks and patrol units in high traffic areas
  • Coordinating with other agencies for incident/risk management
  • Advanced warning signs to let drivers know of conditions ahead

Staying Safe on Snowy Roads

Learning to adapt your driving to changing weather conditions is essential for any motorist. No matter how often you take I-70 or travel during the winter, commit to being a safer driver by using these tips:

  • Ensure your vehicle is prepared to handle the conditions by getting your brakes checked, using the proper tires or chains, keeping the reservoir filled with windshield wiper fluid and keeping the gas tank half full all winter.
  • Drive slowly on snow and ice, especially when there is low visibility.
  • Give yourself more time and space to brake.
  • Increase the distance between your vehicle and others on the road.
  • Try to maintain your speed before going up a hill and avoid stopping while you're on it.
  • Keep a blanket, extra and food and water, and a small shovel in your vehicle in case you get stuck or delayed

Keeping your safety as the number one priority when traveling is always encouraged, and creating a backup plan for emergency situations can provide you with some much-needed peace of mind during this time of year.

If you become injured by a negligent driver this winter, contact Klein Frank, P.C. to work with an award-winning personal injury attorney today. Call (303) 448-8884 or fill out this short form to schedule a free consultation.

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