Snow Tires Outperform Mud/Snow Tires

Snow tires outperform Mud/Snow tires and low tread tire competition in CDOT’s tire demonstration at the Colorado Department of Transportation/MasterDrive demonstration hosted at Foothills Ice Arena to showcase the importance of sufficient tire tread during winter weather conditions. As part of CDOT’s Winter Wise campaign, the demonstration featured three identical compact cars, each with differing tires — low-tread tires, mud and snow designated tires and snow tires.

Side by side, the vehicles first accelerated across the ice to demonstrate the improved control and traction provided by snow tires. In a second demonstration, the vehicles all accelerated and then hit the brakes to demonstrate each set of tires’ stopping distance. No surprise, the vehicle with snow tires was the first to come to a complete stop.

“We repeatedly see highway closures due to spun-out vehicles with poor tire tread,” said Stacia Sellers, CDOT Region 1 Communications Specialist. “We hope this demonstration reinforces the importance of adequate traction and the benefit of snow tires on ice and snow. Colorado drivers travel through snowy and icy roads often and we wanted to show them that their best bet to travel these roads safely is with snow tires.”


Snow Tires

Snow tires give drivers the best chance to avoid spin-outs and crashes on winter roads. The rubber compounds in snow tires stay soft and flexible in cold weather, giving them better grip and braking capability. The tread compound in other tires, like all-season, actually harden in low temperatures and give tires less grip on the road.

Though snow tires outperformed mud/snow designated tires, that does not mean these tires won’t be able to get motorists through some major snow storms. CDOT still recommends, however, remaining a few car links behind the vehicle ahead of you and driving slow for the conditions.


Passenger Vehicle Traction and Chain Law

If conditions require, CDOT may implement the Passenger Vehicle Traction and Chain Laws, making inadequate tires illegal on Colorado roads. The Traction Law requires every motorist to have snow tires, mud/snow tires or a four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicle. All tires must have a minimum of one-eighth inch tread.

If conditions deteriorate further, the Passenger Vehicle Chain Law is reserved for severe winter conditions as it’s the final safety measure before the interstate is closed. The law requires every vehicle to have chains or an alternative traction device, like an AutoSock. Non-compliance with these laws can result in fines ranging from $130-$650.

“It’s incredibly important for drivers to prepare their vehicles andthemselves to travel on snow and ice in the winter,” said Ronn Langford, MasterDrive Founder and President. “Snow tires and sufficient tread are crucial to driver safety, but motorists must also be trained to travel on winter roads. Driver safety is our number one priority at MasterDrive and the impact of training on overall safety is significant.”


Quarter Test

CDOT recommends drivers assess their own tire tread by performing a Quarter Test. For a Quarter Test, insert a quarter into the tire tread upside down, with Washington’s head going in first. If the top of the president’s head is covered by the tread, your tires meet the minimum requirements of the Traction Law with one-eight inch tread. If his head is visible, you should consider investing in new tires.

It is snowing in the mountains and will continue to do so until late Spring. We suggest CDOT’s Winter Wise campaign to educate you and provide tools and resources to help keep drivers safe on Colorado’s winter roads. To learn more and view helpful tips for winter driving, visit


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