News & Resources

Colorado I-70 Crashes Spark Changes to Ease Winter Weather Driving

A string of crashes on Interstate 70 near Glenwood Canyon has prompted state officials to take action to combat dangerous driving. It also has them urging motorists to be particularly cautious in winter weather conditions.

“An unfortunate pattern of reckless and unsafe behaviors, primarily speeding, requires the state to consider a full range of solutions to address driver behavior,” the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol said in a joint news release. 

I-70 has been closed multiple times this year in Glenwood Canyon as a result of traffic accidents, the agencies said. All of those closures were caused by driving too fast for the conditions, they said.

“Unsafe speeds can lead to a number of additional driving errors including the inability to maintain a safe lane position,” CDOT and CSP said in the release. Speeding “reduces the amount of time both the speeding driver and those around them have to brake or move out of the way to avoid a collision.”

Glenwood Canyon is one of the most scenic spots in the state and I-70 sees significant traffic through the area all year around. Still, the rugged terrain poses hazards to drivers, especially in winter months.

Mountain roads throughout Colorado are vulnerable to extreme weather and conditions like flooding, mudslides, and rockslides. The twists and curves of I-70 along the floor of Glenwood Canyon make that road even more challenging during weather events, and the limited space along the road’s bridges and viaducts can delay crash responses and clean-ups.

I-70 was recently closed for several hours, for example, after a semi-truck crash. Although no one was injured in the accident, the truck was reportedly carrying coffee products that were strewn across the highway in both directions.

The interstate was also closed three different times in four days at the end of January.

A single tractor trailer was traveling westbound on I-70 just west of the Hanging Lake Tunnels when it tipped over, spilling into the eastbound lane, snarling traffic and leading to a series of other minor collisions. The crash followed a similar accident just days earlier, according to a local news report.

A massive pileup on I-70 kicked off the new year in the Canyon, damaging 15 cars and two semi-trucks, the Daily Sentinel reported. The collision reportedly sent eight people to the hospital with injuries. 

New Rules of the Road in Glenwood Canyon

CDOT and CSP recently implemented additional measures aimed at reducing the number of closures caused by crashes. 

The moves include lowering speed limits through the Canyon, metering traffic by physically slowing traffic down with snow plows, and increasing speed enforcement. 

The agencies said they would also meet with elected officials and the Colorado Motor Carriers Association to come up with a plan to address the safety issue. They are considering limiting truck access to the Canyon in certain weather conditions, particularly when Wyoming closes I-80.

The state is also looking to improve alternative routes in the area, like CO 13, the primary access to I-80 on the Western Slope, as well as US 40 and US 285. CDOT said it has prioritized design work for improving Cottonwood Pass.

“We all know that Glenwood Canyon is a fragile and complex environment prone to extreme weather and slick conditions in the winter,” CDOT Director Shoshana Lew said in a statement included in the news release.

“The whole team is working creatively to employ even more strategies and resources like slower speeds, metering traffic, and added enforcement in conjunction with major long-term improvements to resiliency and accelerating alternative routes and we will continue to evaluate all options available,” Lew added. “But we need motor vehicle operators to follow traffic safety laws and recognize that their decisions — especially when it comes to large trucks — have far-reaching consequences for the entire region.”

Winter Driving Precautions

There are several steps that drivers can take before hitting the road to reduce the risk of accidents in winter weather. Some of those steps are required by law.

Colorado law requires all vehicles operating on state highways during snowy conditions to be equipped with tires with at least 3/16 tread. Drivers can opt instead to use chains or a traction device, like an AutoSock. Violations come with fines and surcharges ranging from $130 to $650.

Drivers should also check that their tires are properly inflated and that they have a working spare in the vehicle. Get old batteries replaced to avoid trouble on the road and 

have an emergency kit in the vehicle in order to be prepared in the event of an accident. 

The best advice for drivers in wintry conditions is to consider what you’re getting into ahead of time. Check weather reports, plan your route in advance and check road conditions at COtrip.org. Stay off of the road whenever possible in hazardous conditions.

Compensation for Car Accident Injuries

Anyone who is injured in a car accident in Colorado has the right to seek compensation for their injuries. The compensation includes money for medical bills, vehicle and other property damage, missed wages during recuperation and any impact of the injuries on long-term earning capacity.

Winter weather crashes can raise a number of questions about who is to blame for the collision. Drivers and their insurers are often liable.

Colorado drivers owe a “duty of care” to everyone else on the road to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner. That means maintaining safe speeds and complying with traffic laws. It also means steering clear of dangerous behavior like drinking and driving or texting behind the wheel. 

What is reasonable often changes in harsh weather conditions. Drivers are expected to slow down and take other precautions when prudent.

Speak with a Denver Car Accident Lawyer 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a winter weather or other type of crash in Colorado, a Denver car accident lawyer at Levine Law can help you take action. Our attorneys combine decades of experience and a strong track record of success in the courtroom and through negotiated settlements.

We are pleased to serve clients throughout Colorado, including in Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins and Loveland. Call us at 303-333-8000 or contact us online to speak with a Denver car accident lawyer.

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