Today I attempted to get to Idaho Springs, CO from the West in a rented AWD vehicle about 10pm. It was snowing, and my dashboard was showing 23F outside. As I was approaching Vail I saw a number of flashing alerts saying that all AMV (automotive vehicles?) have to fit chains in a designated area where I then saw trucks fitting chains. Cars, however, were just proceeding straight through. I did not have any chains, and because I had been in the US for only 4 days (for the first time!) I decided to turn back, stay the night safe and decide what to do tomorrow.
I have now found that alert on cotrip.org:
The alert is saying that AWD vehicles are OK to drive there. However, my assumption is that assumes winter tires.
Could somebody please clarify from their knowledge/experience of driving that road:
- Are AWD vehicles required to fit chains when that kind of alert is on? If no, are they required to have winter tires fitted?
- If winter tires are required, will M+S (mud + snow?) tires fit the definition of "winter tires" in this case, or do they need to be studded?
- How steep/dangerous the road is in terms of the risk of losing traction?
- Given that the rental company is aware of the pickup/dropoff locations (Las Vegas -> Denver), would it be normal/lawful for them to apply penalties if I cannot drop the car off in the agreed place/time (Denver tomorrow morning) because I am not allowed to drive the car because it does not satisfy the requirements of the Traction Law Alert? If I cannot drive there my intention would be to call them and arrange alternative dropoff location.
If you can answer any of the questions above please do! Thanks!
P. S. I noted this closely related question but it does not address what I am asking.
I just noted there is now another alert called CHAIN LAW which explicitly requires ALL vehicles to have chains (apparently, the flashing screen I saw on the road was conveying this alert, not the Traction Law one):