#BaldTiresSuck: New campaign calls on Coloradans to check tires before driving to mountains

Media Contacts

Advocates encourage travelers to use transit in place of driving

CoPIRG Foundation and I-70 Coalition

Denver – As Colorado’s mountains get blanketed with snow, advocates with CoPIRG Foundation and the I-70 Coalition gathered at a Park-n-Ride in Golden to launch a new campaign called #BaldTiresSuck aimed at educating drivers to check their tires before driving into the mountains. The groups highlighted that driving on bald tires along I-70 and other mountain roads in winter weather conditions is unsafe for you and for the travelers around you, and it can cost you a stiff penalty if your car causes a crash or lane closure.

“We are launching the #BaldTiresSuck campaign to call out what a huge issue inadequate tires are on the I-70 mountain corridor.” said Margaret Bowes, Director of the I-70 Coalition. “Just a single vehicle with substandard tires can cause a crash or block the highway, resulting in big traffic jams that bring travel along the corridor to a standstill or close the interstate entirely.”  

“One death travelling along I-70 is one too many, especially when it can be prevented,” said Danny Katz, Director of CoPIRG Foundation. “That’s why we have a new hashtag we’re launching – #BaldTiresSuck – so we can stop preventable crashes by educating people about tire safety as well as draw attention to travel options that involve leaving your car behind for your entire trip to the mountains.”

Bald tires are tires where the tread has worn down to a point where it cannot adequately grip the road and is no longer safe to drive on. Bald tires can cause a lack of control, hydroplaning, blowouts and understeering, all of which are made even worse by icy, winter road conditions. 

According to data from Federal Highway Administration, 9 percent of crashes nationally were tire-related. Colorado does not have one central place where tire-related crashes are tracked, however according to CDOT, crashes — not traffic volume — account for as much as 60 percent of all traffic delays on Colorado roads.

“Too often we see motorists driving up the I-70 Mountain Corridor without proper tires. Having the proper traction can make a huge difference in getting you to where you need to go safely. Most of the crashes that happen during snow storms are caused by motorists either driving too fast for the conditions or by driving on tires with hardly any tread. Be prepared before heading up the mountains and make sure you have at least an 1/8th inch of tread.” stated Andrew Hogle, CDOT Public Information Officer.

“Sitting in a tow truck, or worse, an ambulance, should not be the first time you think about proper tires” says Colorado State Patrol Master Sergeant Donald Enloe. He is the I-70 Incident and Resource Manager. “Beyond just the inconvenience of bad traffic as a result of crashes and slide offs, we have seen far too many people injured or killed for something as simple as not having the correct or safe tires on their vehicle when traveling.”  

As part of CDOT’s effort to build smarter roadways with more informed drivers, in the coming weeks CDOT’s RoadX Program will be deploying a new technology that can automatically detect both tread and tire pressure. This new system will be installed at the Dinosaur Lots in Morrison this winter.

Many people might not realize they have a bald tire. Despite the name, a bald tire is not completely tread free. The groups highlighted a simple test that all drivers can do to check the tread on their tires – the quarter test. To do this, you put a quarter into your tire tread with President Washington’s head facing down. If you can see the top of Washington’s head, you have a bald tire that is not safe for winter driving conditions. 

Vehicles using bald tires can also receive a $133 ticket if they drive along I-70 when the Colorado Traction Law is in effect. During this time, if a motorist blocks the roadway because they have inadequate equipment, they could be fined more than $650.

Even if you have a vehicle with adequate tires, CoPIRG Foundation and the I-70 Coalition encourage travelers to take advantage of transit options to travel along and around I-70 communities. Travelers should use www.GoI70.com/transit to find information on all the ways to get to and around the mountains, including local transit options, shared vans and shuttles services, and the newly expanded Bustang service, which now provides connections from Denver all the way to Grand Junction via its West Line service. Bustang’s West Line has launched a new route that leaves daily from Denver Union Station at 7:00 am arriving in Frisco at 8:45 am (one-way $12), Vail at 9:20am (one-way $17), and Glenwood Springs at 10:45am (one-way $28).  

For information on CDOT’s winter driving tips, the traction law and the quarter test , check out https://www.codot.gov/news/2018/october/cdot-preps-for-winter-storm-offers-motorists-winter-driving-tips