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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — For the third consecutive year, the Utah Department of Transportation is offering its Cottonwood Canyons sticker program.
The free service allows drivers to quickly pass through inspections when the state's traction law is in effect for the Cottonwood canyons. Drivers need to get their tires checked, and UDOT personnel will make sure their car has the right equipment for winter driving conditions before issuing a sticker.
For the first time, the general public can take part in the program. Prior to this year, it was reserved only for canyon residents and workers.
People rolled into the UDOT maintenance shed Tuesday in Cottonwood Heights for the inspections. Those residents plan on going up and down the Cottonwood canyons a lot this winter.
"In the Cottonwood canyons, it can snow 3″ or 4″ an hour," said Jake Brown, UDOT roadway operations manager for Cottonwood canyons.
Many residents already know getting stuck in all that snow is no fun.
"We have a lot of people that have the 'I think I can. I think I can.' And then get right to the middle of the road and become stuck," said Brown.
He stressed preparation. "We will check their tires. Make sure they're 5/32nds or more and we make sure they're either MS or 3-peak snow tires."
If everything checks out, you get a sticker.
"We stick a sticker on your windshield and send you on your way," said Brown.
Eric Wollesen passed the inspection and rolled out with a sticker. "It should help with the morning rush in the canyon and make people more aware of what tires are required."
Brown said the inspections keep people safe and traffic moving. In its third year offering the program, Brown said it's catching on. "We need people to have good tires, a good vehicle to be able to handle what they're thrown at the Cottonwoods."
These stickers are not required to drive in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons but will allow drivers to quickly pass inspections when the traction law is in effect. It's voluntary to participate.
The free inspections will be available from Nov. 15 to Feb. 28, while supplies last. Last year, 5,000 people participated. UDOT is partnering with Burt Brothers to offer free inspections at 15 locations throughout the state. They will take care of drivers for free even if they didn't purchase their tires through them.
The program has also expanded to rental car agencies – including Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo and National.