Mountain Traffic Jam: CDOT encourages motorists to stay Winter Wise this Presidents Day weekend

Travel Advisory

February 15, 2024 - Statewide - I-70 tunnel traffic expected to surpass one million motorists in February

To download CDOT’s Winter Wise safety education materials, visit:

CDOT pide a los motoristas que estén preparados para condiciones climáticas invernales este fin de semana del Día de los Presidentes en español.

Statewide — Presidents Day is one of the busiest mountain traffic weekends of the year as Coloradans prepare to trek through the state’s high country. Motorists who aren’t prepared for winter conditions can cause lane closures, lengthen travel times and heighten their risk for slide outs and crashes. CDOT is reminding drivers headed to the mountains this holiday weekend to ensure their vehicles are prepared for winter roads.

More than a million motorists travel through the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels each February. In February 2023, the daily traffic count average was more than 38,000 motorists.

"Winter weather presents unique challenges for even the most experienced Colorado drivers,” said Andrew Hogle, CDOT Winter Wise communications manager. “We encourage all motorists to avoid peak travel times and ensure their vehicles are prepared for the possibility of winter weather. That includes keeping a winterized emergency kit in your vehicle with water, snacks, traction devices, jumper cables, blankets, a first-aid kit and other necessities.”

The highest number of crashes on I-70 occur in February and March, at the height of winter. Since 2018, more than 630 crashes have happened in February and March. That crash total accounts for 37% of the total crashes on the I-70 mountain corridor from October to April in that five-year span.

Motorists traveling to the mountains this Presidents Day weekend should plan their trip ahead of time, slow down and drive safely around large vehicles to minimize the risk of a crash. Additionally, always stay at least three car lengths behind snowplows and never pass them on the right.

"We’re still in the thick of the winter season, so it’s important to ensure that your vehicle is prepared for winter travel,” said Hogle. “Before hitting the road this weekend, make sure you have winter, all-weather, or mud and snow tires with a minimum of three-sixteenths of an inch tread depth. Preparing your vehicle and tires for winter weather is one of the best ways to keep yourself and others safe on Colorado roadways and prevent delays on I-70.”

From Sept. 1 to May 31, the Traction Law remains active on the I-70 mountain corridor from Dotsero to Morrison.

Colorado’s Passenger Vehicle Traction Law requires all motorists to have at least three-sixteenths of an inch tread depth on all tires and at least one of the following:

  • 4WD or AWD vehicle
  • Tires with mud and snow designation (M+S icon)
  • Winter tires (mountain snowflake icon)
  • Tires with an all-weather rating by the manufacturer
  • Chains or approved traction device

For more information about the Traction Law requirements, visit

CDOT offers the following tips and reminders to help drivers stay safe this Presidents Day weekend:

  • Avoid traveling during peak times. Visit to view real-time road conditions, travel alerts and roadwork impacts. Visit for a weekend travel forecast.
  • Use public transit if you need a ride. Bustang and Snowstang offer service to and from certain mountain areas, and Bustang Outrider offers service to mountain areas and rural regions. Visit for multiple transit options along the I-70 mountain corridor.
  • Join a carpool if your vehicle isn’t equipped for winter conditions.
  • Be patient during safety metering. If you are stopped on I-70 near the Eisenhower Tunnel, it may be due to safety metering. Safety metering helps control traffic flow, reduce accidents and keep the tunnel clear for emergency vehicles to get through. Please be patient.
  • Use I-70 Mountain Express Lanes. There are I-70 Mountain Express Lanes in both directions of I-70 adjacent to the free, general-purpose lanes between the Veterans Memorial Tunnels and Empire interchange. These Express Lanes operate during peak travel times. To learn more, visit

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 For specific information about I-70 and other highway travel conditions, motorists can call 511 or check Additionally, drivers can check Twitter for up-to-date travel information via @ColoradoDOT. For more detailed information about the Traction Law and Passenger Vehicle Safety Law, snowplow laws, safety stats and frequently asked questions, visit