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Fewer drivers ticketed under Colorado’s traction law each year since 2019

Drivers are supposed to take added precautions to avoid crashes on mountain roads. But 9Wants to Know found CSP issued 38% fewer traction tickets in 2021 than 2019.

COLORADO, USA — Colorado traction laws require drivers to have vehicles equipped to handle the ice and snow along the state's highways.

However, 9Wants to Know has learned that few non-commercial vehicles have been ticketed under the state's traction law since 2019.

Jay Looper saw what could happen without those measures while on a “treacherous” drive in the high country. He took a video of cars sliding along the highway. 

"You see, like, Corvettes out there,” he said. "It's just baffling. Like, what's going on? What are these people doing?"

Just 5% of traction law tickets went to non-commercial vehicles from January 2020 to March 2022, according to a 9Wants to Know analysis of Colorado State Patrol data.

The traction law was bolstered in late 2019. It now requires all drivers to either have four-wheel-drive, specialized tires or chains on Interstate 70 between the mountainous cities of Dotsero and Morrison at all times between September and May -- regardless of the forecast.

RELATED: Colorado's new I-70 traction law in effect from September to May

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CSP Trooper Josh Lewis said while law enforcement is certainly looking to make sure drivers are following the law, they've got their hands full in a snow event, going from crash to crash.

“We're in bad areas where we don't want to duck our head down to check tires to make sure they're adequate enough," Lewis said.

That may explain the scant numbers of tickets written over the last few years. CSP data showed the agency issued 38% fewer total tickets in 2021 than in 2019.

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, violators could be fined at least $130 and more than $650 if they block the roadway.

CDOT said traction laws are enforced by Colorado State Patrol if a driver is already pulled over. 

“This means CSP can only cite motorists if they crash and/or cause traffic delays and are not compliant with the laws,” CDOT's website says.

So they rely on personal responsibility, something Looper said people need to take more seriously. 

"When you drive through the mountains, there's a lot of consequences," he said.

9Wants to Know producer and photojournalist Anna Hewson contributed to this report. 

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