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Tire chains: A state-by-state requirement guide

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Tire chains: A state-by-state requirement guide
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is planning a chain up station project along Colorado Highway (CO) 9 near Alma and CO 285 near Grant.

There are many different tire chain laws throughout the nation, as each state sets its own rules. Below is a roundup of each state’s current laws. Winter has already begun in many areas of the country, so it’s important to know when and where to chain up.

ALABAMA

The use of tire chains is allowed on any vehicle when required for safety because of snow, rain or other conditions tending to cause a vehicle to slide or skid.

WeatherRoute B Test

ALASKA

Truckers are not permitted to use chains from May 1 through Sept. 15 when north of 60 North Latitude. Truckers are not permitted to use chains from April 15 through Sept. 30 when south of 60 North Latitude.

WeatherRoute B Test

If operating a vehicle on Sterling Highway, truckers are not permitted to use chains from May 1 through Sept. 15.

Truckers will need to obtain a special permit from the Department of Administration if they would like to use chains in one of these prohibited zones.

ARIZONA

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

ARKANSAS

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

CALIFORNIA

Drivers must stop and put on chains when highway signs indicate chains are required. Drivers can be cited by the California Highway Patrol and fined if they don’t. Drivers will usually have about a mile between “chains required” signs and the checkpoint to install your chains. During winter weather, it takes at least eight chains for a standard tractor-trailer configuration to comply with the regulations.

During the winter months, there might be traction chain controls in the mountain areas. When these are established, truckers will see signs posted along the highway. These signs will also include the type of requirement, which will include one of the following:

  • R1 – Chains, traction devices or snow tires are required on the drive axle of all vehicles except four wheel/ all-wheel drive.
  • R2 – Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles except four wheel/ all-wheel drive with snow-tread tires on all four wheels.
  • R3 – Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles, no exceptions.

COLORADO

From Sept. 1 through May 31, all trucks must carry enough chains on Interstate 70 when traveling between mile marker 259 outside Golden, Colorado, and mile marker 133 in Dotsero, Colorado. If truckers get stopped and do not have chains on, the fine is $50 plus a surcharge of $16.

If truckers do not put chains on their trucks when the law is in effect, the fine is $500 plus a $78 surcharge. If truckers do not put chains on and end up blocking the highway, the fine will increase to $1,000 plus a $156 surcharge.

Note: Colorado has two different types of chain laws:

  • Level 1 – Single-axle combination commercial vehicles must chain up. Trucks must have all four drive tires in chains. When Level 1 is in effect, all other commercial vehicles must have snow tires or chains.
  • Level 2 – When level 2 is in effect, all commercial vehicles are required to chain up the four drive tires.

CONNECTICUT

Chains are permitted during hazardous weather from Nov. 15 through April 30. The chains cannot be damaging to the highway’s surface.

DELAWARE

Trucks are permitted to use chains on highways from Oct.15 through April 15.

GEORGIA

At any time, the Georgia Department of Transportation may close or limit access to certain highways during inclement weather. If this occurs, signage will be placed to inform drivers that chains are required in order to proceed.

For commercial vehicles, chains must be placed on the outermost drive tires.

IDAHO

Officials with the Idaho Department of Transportation can determine that it is unsafe to drive over Lookout Pass and Fourth of July Pass on I-90, and Lolo Pass on Highway 12. If it is deemed unsafe, then trucks will be required to chain up a minimum of one tire on each drive axle and one axle at or near the rear.

ILLINOIS

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

INDIANA

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

IOWA

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

KANSAS

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

KENTUCKY

No person shall use on a highway not covered with ice a vehicle with a chained wheel unless the wheel rests upon an ice-shoe at least 6 inches wide. When chains are used on rubber-tired vehicles, the cross chains shall not be more than three-fourths (3/4) of an inch in thickness or diameter and shall be spaced not more than ten inches apart, around the circumference of the tires.

LOUISIANA

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

MAINE

Vehicles cannot have tires with metal studs, wires, spikes or other metal protruding from the tire tread from May 1 through Oct. 1. Other than that, ttire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

MARYLAND

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts prohibits the use of studded tires and chains between May 1 and Nov. 1 without a permit. Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

MICHIGAN

Tire chains are allowed for safety when snow, ice or other condition are present. If chains are used, they must not come in direct contact with the roads surface.

MINNESOTA

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

MISSISSIPPI

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

MISSOURI

No person shall operate any motor vehicle upon any road or highway of this state between the first day of April and the first day of November while the motor vehicle is equipped with tires containing metal or carbide studs. The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

MONTANA

If the Montana Department of Transportation determines that highways are too dangerous for travel, they may establish the following recommendations on traction devices:

  • Chains or other approved traction devices are recommended for drive wheels.
  • Chains or other approved traction devices are required for drive wheels.
  • Chains required for driver wheels.

NEBRASKA

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

NEVADA

It is unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle, whether it is an emergency vehicle or otherwise, without traction devices, tire chains or snow tires upon any street or highway, under icy or snowy conditions, when the highway is marked or posted with signs for the requirement of traction devices, chains or snow tires.

If a highway is marked or posted with signs requiring the use of traction devices, tire chains or snow tires, a motor vehicle or combination of vehicles must be equipped with:

  • Traction devices, tire chains or snow tires if the vehicle has a gross weight or combined gross weight of 10,000 pounds or less.
  • Tire chains if a vehicle has a gross weight or combined gross weight of more than 10,000 pounds.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

NEW JERSEY

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

NEW MEXICO

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

NEW YORK

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

NORTH CAROLINA

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakota allows metal studs within 1/16 inch beyond tread from Oct. 15 through April 15. The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

OHIO

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

OKLAHOMA

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

OREGON

Oregon’s law applies to all highways in the state. Signs will tell truckers when they are required to carry chains and when they are required to use them. Truckers will need to have six chains on hand to comply in Oregon. The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

PENNSYLVANIA

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

RHODE ISLAND

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

SOUTH DAKOTA

The South Dakota DOT has the authority to restrict travel on roads. Signs will alert truckers to these restrictions. Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

TENNESSEE

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

TEXAS

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

UTAH

When any designated highway is so restricted, no vehicle shall be allowed or permitted the use of the highway during the period between Oct. 1 and April 30, or when conditions warrant due to adverse, or hazardous weather or roadway conditions, as determined by the Utah Department of Transportation, unless:

An operator of a commercial vehicle with four or more drive wheels, other than a bus, shall affix tire chains to at least four of the drive-wheel tires.

VERMONT

Vermont has a traffic committee that will decide if use of chains will be required. Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways. Vehicles with semitrailers or trailers that have a tandem-drive axle towing a trailer shall have chains:

  • On two tires on each side of the primary drive axle, or if both axles of the vehicle are powered by the drive line, one tire on each side of each drive axle; and
  • On one tire of the front axle and one tire on one of the rear axles of the trailer.

VIRGINIA

Tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

WASHINGTON

Any commercial vehicle over 10,000 lbs. Gross vehicle weight rating should carry chains from Nov. 1 to April 1 when driving on one of the following routes:

Blewett Pass

SR-97 between MP 145 and Milepost 185

Chinook Pass

SR-410 Enumclaw (MP 25) to SR-12 (MP 342)

Cle Elum to Teanaway

SR-970 Cle Elum (MP 0) to Teanaway (MP 10)

Gibbons Creek to Intersection of Cliffs Rd.

SR-14 Gibbons Creek (MP 18) to Intersection of Cliffs Rd. (MP 108)

Mt. Baker Highway (Ellensburg to Selah)

SR-542 (MP22) to (MP 57)

I-82 from Ellensburg (MP 3) to Selah (MP 26)

Newhalem to Winthrop

SR-20 Newhalem (MP 120) to Winthrop (MP 192)

Omak to Nespelem

SR-155 Omak (MP 79) to Nespelem (MP 45)

Satus Pass

SR-97 Columbia River (MP 00) to Toppenish (MP 59)

Sherman Pass

SR-20 Tonasket (MP 262) to Kettle Falls (MP 342)

Snoqualmie Pass

I-90 North Bend (MP 32) and Ellensburg (MP 101)

Stevens Pass

SR-2 Dryden (MP 108) to Index (MP 36)

White Pass

SR-12 Packwood (MP 135) to Naches (MP 187)

WEST VIRGINIA

The use of chains is allowed for safety when snow, ice or other condition are present. If chains are used, they must not come in direct contact with the roads surface.

WISCONSIN

The use of chains is allowed for safety when snow, ice or other condition are present. If chains are used, they must not come in direct contact with the roads surface.

WYOMING

When the chain law is in effect due to snow, ice or other conditions, travel on a highway may be restricted to use only by motor vehicles utilizing adequate snow tires or tire chains. There are two levels.

  • Level 1: When conditions are hazardous, travel can be restricted to vehicles equipped with tire chains, vehicles with adequate snow tires, or all-wheel-drive vehicles.
  • Level 2: When conditions are extremely hazardous, travel can be restricted to vehicles equipped with tire chains or all-wheel-drive vehicles equipped with adequate mud and snow or all-weather-rated tires.

The operator of a commercial vehicle shall affix tire chains to at least two of the drive wheels of the vehicle at opposite ends of the same drive axle when the vehicle is required to utilize tire chains under this subsection.

Any driver that is in violation will face a fine of no more than $250. If the violation results in the closure of all lanes in one or both directions of a highway, truckers will face a fine of no more than $750.

The Trucker News Staff

The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Avatar for The Trucker News Staff
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.
For over 30 years, the objective of The Trucker editorial team has been to produce content focused on truck drivers that is relevant, objective and engaging. After reading this article, feel free to leave a comment about this article or the topics covered in this article for the author or the other readers to enjoy. Let them know what you think! We always enjoy hearing from our readers.

Tire chains: A state-by-state requirement guide

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Very helpful, I work in safety for a large carrier and this article helps me give our drivers dependable correct advice. Thank you

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