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"Chains required" road sign along a snowy mountain road.

While most Americans are thinking about the upcoming Labor Day weekend and end-of-summer plans, Colorado is getting ready for winter.

The state’s chain law for commercial truck drivers went into effect Tuesday. Even though the rules haven’t changed since last year, veteran drivers may want a refresher course and new drivers could use the orientation. So, here’s what drivers need to know.

From Sept. 1 through May 31, all drivers must carry sufficient chains on Interstate 70 when traveling between mile marker 259 outside Golden and mile marker 133 in Dotsero. If a driver gets caught without chains on this stretch of road, he or she will be fined $50 plus a $17 surcharge, according to the Land Line website.

Colorado’s chain law also applies to all state and federal highways, and was initially enacted in 1996, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). The law defines commercial vehicles as those being used in commerce to transport passengers or property, and fitting into one of the following categories:

• Gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more, inclusive of a towed unit, which has a gross vehicle weight-ration of more than 10,000 pounds.
• Gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver.

(Photo: ATBS)

As snowfall arrives and begins sticking to roads, drivers will be notified by road sign messages telling them they need to chain up. The state provides about two dozen chain-up locations along the I-70 corridor. If a driver doesn’t put on chains when required, he or she may have to fork out a $500 fine, plus a $79 surcharge. If a driver loses control and blocks the road as a result of not chaining up when required, the fine is $1,000, plus a $157 surcharge.

Colorado has two different types of chain laws:

• Level 1/Code 17: Single-drive-axle, combination commercial vehicles must chain up all four drive tires. Cables are not allowed in this instance. All other commercial vehicles must have either snow tires or chains to proceed.
• Level 2/Code 18: Chains are required for all commercial vehicles. Again, all four tires of single-drive tractors must be chained. For dual-drive-axle tractors, you’re only required to chain four drive tires. Outside tires of drive axles must have chains. Inside tires may have cables.

Paul Schlatter, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Boulder, Colorado, told FreightWaves that a dusting of snow covered some of the tallest peaks in the Rockies Monday night, the last night of August. It didn’t stick to any roads. However, Schlatter went on to say that snow often begins sticking to high-elevation routes as early as mid- to late September.

Colorado’s chain law starts earlier than any other state’s. Click here for more information and a list of state-by-state laws.

Due to disruptions to the freight market from Hurricane Laura, FreightWaves is providing free access to key features of SONAR through Friday, Sept. 4. Click to learn more.

This content was originally published here.