CDOT is prepared for winter, are you?

News Release

December 8, 2021 - Statewide News - Motorists should start preparing for winter 2021/2022

STATEWIDE- While the state saw some spurts of winter weather in October, Coloradoans have mostly been enjoying warmer temperatures and dry weather for the majority of fall, but do not be fooled, winter weather is knocking on our door today through Friday and motorists need to be ready for the offical kick off the winter driving season.

Winter weather may not be on the mind for some right now, but it is on the minds of Colorado Department of Transportation maintenance crews all year long. Maintenance crews across the state conducted various trainings for new hires as well as for folks who have been with CDOT for decades. These trainings cover best practices, safety tips and promote efficient ways to be winter ready. All plows are checked to ensure they are in great shape for the winter and snow fighting materials are at the ready for adverse conditions.

"We are working through various methods to bring in new maintenance employees prior to the winter season and have built out a robust training program that allows employees to obtain their Commercial Drivers Licenses along with coaching, mentoring and other standard training in the Denver metro area,” said CDOT Director of Maintenance John Lorme. “As a part of this training program, trainees have 30 days to obtain their CDL instructional permits, and then 60 days after that to receive their full CDL, which helps us to not only attract but retain dedicated employees who are fully equipped to maintain our roadways this winter season and beyond.”

Not only are crews gearing up to clear the roadways of snow and ice this winter and specifically this week, but CDOT’s avalanche team is already closely coordinating with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center to prepare for the upcoming avalanche season. CDOT’s avalanche team goes through extensive training so they can properly mitigate nearly 200 slide paths across the state.

"Some people might not realize that CDOT is out there using various devices to clear slide paths that have the potential of covering the highway, or worse, posing a danger to motorists,” said Lorme. “It’s no secret that we’ll have temporary road closures all winter long to allow our crews, in conjunction with the CAIC, to mitigate slide paths to prevent any unplanned closures of the highway. We saw an active avalanche season earlier this year and want to continue to urge motorists to use both CAIC’s avalanche forecasting maps and CDOT’s COtrip.org website and COtrip Planner mobile app before heading out onto the roadway to know if roads are closed or if it is better to just stay home due to avalanche conditions.”

In late September 2021, CDOT launched a new, easy-to-use COtrip.org website that features a new 511 map that allows drivers to safely navigate Colorado roads. The website offers new features that help travelers plan their route ahead of time, and prepare for road or lane closures or adverse road conditions. In addition to the website, CDOT also launched the new COtrip Planner mobile app that was designed to meet the growing trend of getting information on mobile and tablet devices about road closures and detours. The COtrip Planner app provides statewide, real-time traffic information, and works on smartphones and tablets that operate on iOS and Android platforms.

"Our hope is that checking the COtrip Planner app before getting into your car becomes a routine that will help to prevent motorists from heading out in challenging winter conditions,” said CDOT’s Executive Director Shoshana Lew. “Cameras are available on any state highway or interstate you travel on in Colorado so it’s easy to see what the roads look like and if you feel comfortable driving during a winter weather event. In addition to seeing the road conditions either through our cameras or our road conditions layer, you can also see what roads are closed and if the Chain and/or Traction Law has been implemented along your route. It’s important to be prepared before you go, and COtrip provides great resources to get ready for winter.”

Motorists are now able to be more prepared than ever before thanks to the COtrip Planner mobile app and CDOT’s various winter driving resources that can be found here. While extensive annual training might not be needed for the general public who have experience driving in the snow, it may be time to consider registering teenagers in classes that will help them to safely navigate driving in adverse weather conditions. Adult drivers new to Colorado can also find various classes to register for to prepare for driving in snowy or icy conditions.

To be extra prepared for this season, motorists should stock their cars with blankets, water, a flashlight, a shovel, some nutrition bars or other food for sustenance. Motorists should also consider stocking up on sand to help gain traction in the event a vehicle becomes stuck on ice or snow, jumper cables, an ice scraper and lock deicer. If there is one thing all Colorado drivers know, it’s that during major snow and ice events our state highways and interstates will likely close due to poor driving conditions or motorists who are unprepared or exhibiting unsafe driving behavior during a storm. Don’t be caught unprepared during an extended closure.

For the most up-to-date winter driving resources, information and tips, visit winter.codot.gov.

Before You Travel This Winter:

  • Have a plan. Prepare a winterized emergency vehicle kit. Always plan your route in advance and be sure to let someone know your route and ETA. Check road conditions at COtrip.org.
  • Check your tires. It’s tire buying season! Make sure to check the air pressure in all tires, including your spare, and that your tires have good tread — at least 3/16”.
  • Perform a safety check. Give your vehicle a tune-up before long trips. This includes getting an oil change if necessary, inspecting the battery, brakes and pads and wiper blades. Ensure you have a full tank of gas, and lastly, check your headlights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers and interior lights.
  • Know the laws. When weather conditions warrant, CDOT implements Passenger Vehicle Traction and Chain Laws. Head over to CDOT’s Traction & Chain Laws page for the most up-to-date laws.

While You're on the Road:

  • Drive for the conditions. Don’t drive faster than you can see ahead and don’t forget to turn on your headlights! If you’re stuck in a serious storm, do not leave your vehicle. Run the engine periodically and wait for help.
  • Bow to the plow. It is illegal to pass a snowplow when it is operating its lights and operating in a tandem formation with one or more snowplows. Don’t crowd the plow, be sure to remain three to four car lengths behind snowplows.

Download the COtrip Planner App

The new FREE COtrip Planner mobile app was designed to meet the growing trend of information on mobile and tablet devices for the traveling public. The COtrip Planner app provides statewide, real-time traffic information, and works on mobile devices that operate on the iOS and Android platforms. Visit the Google Play Store (Android devices) or the Apple Store (iOS devices) to download!

Know Before You Go

Travelers are urged to “know before you go.” Gather information about weather forecasts, anticipated travel impacts and current road conditions prior to hitting the road. CDOT resources include:

About Winter Wise

CDOT’s Winter Wise campaign focuses on education, tools and resources to help keep drivers safe on Colorado’s winter roads. To learn more and view helpful tips for winter driving, visit winter.codot.gov. For specific information about I-70 and other highway travel conditions, motorists can call 511 or check COtrip.org. Additionally, drivers can check Twitter for up-to-date travel information via @ColoradoDOT. For more detailed information about the Traction and Passenger Vehicle Safety Laws, snowplow laws, safety stats and frequently asked questions, visit winter.codot.gov.