State chain laws and regulations

Chain Law Information

 

We have gathered information from each state and alphabetically listed each state's chaining requirements. We have also listed information from the state trucking associations on which grades are the most dangerous grades in each state.

Further contact information for each state motor carrier association and state Department of Transportation, as well as Internet sites and telephone numbers, is provided. In addition, drivers may want to note a good source for weather in the western US: www.wrh.noaa.gov.

Arizona

Arizona Trucking Association
2111 West McDowell Road
Phoenix, AZ 85009
O: (602) 252-7559
F: (602) 252-8008
www.arizonatrucking.com
Art Levario - Director of Safety and Compliance

Summary:

  1. Tire chains of reasonable proportions.
  2. From October 1 to May 1 studded tires are authorized.
  3. Local authorities in their respective jurisdictions may issue special permits.

Difficult passes in Arizona include 17 mile grade on I-17, Texas Canyon on I-10, Salt River Canyon on US 60/70, and US 60 near Superior.

California

California Trucking Association
3251 Beacon Blvd.
West Sacramento, CA 95691
O: (916) 373-3500
F: (916) 373-3639
www.caltrux.org
Rich Leimbach - Director of Safety

The California chain law (revised 11/99) may be viewed at www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/.

California does not require trucks to carry chains during any specified time period. When the weather hits, though, it takes at least eight chains for a standard tractor-trailer configuration to comply with the regulations.

Chains or cables?

Conventional tire chains and cable chains, as well as other less conventional devices such as "Spikes Spiders," are permitted. Trucks with cable-type chains are legal, but may be restricted at times because of severe conditions – which can happen commonly in the higher elevations.

Placement

Eight total. On the tractor, four chains must be on all four tires of the main drive axle. Two more chains are required on the outside tires of the second drive axle. You have options on the placement of the two more required chains on the trailer axles. Chains can be placed on the outside of either axle or staggered with one chain on the outside of each axle.

Remember, while inside tires of duals are not usually required to be chained, CalTrans can require chains on the inside duals if conditions are bad enough.

Route specific

Chains are most often required in the higher mountain passes of northern California, such as: Interstate 5 north of Redding;

  • Interstate 80 over Donner Pass between Sacramento and Reno, NV; and
  • U.S. Highway 50 over Echo Summit between Lake Tahoe and Sacramento.
  • Chains are also sometimes required on:
  • State Route 58 near Tehachapi between Bakersfield and Mojave;
  • Interstate 15 over Cajon Pass between Victorville and San Bernardino; and Interstate 5 over Tejon Pass between Los Angeles and Bakersfield

However, snow can fall unseasonably at higher elevations at many locations within California. Chains may be required at any time at these higher elevations when conditions warrant.

Further information is available through CalTrans at (916) 654-4918. Road condition information is available at (910) 445-7623 or online at www.dot.ca.gov.

Colorado

Colorado Motor Carriers Association
4060 Elati Street
Denver, CO 80216
O: (303) 443-3375
F: (303) 477-6977
Patti Olsgard - Director of Safety
Patti@cmca.com

The Colorado chain law may be viewed at www.cotrip.org/.

NEW CHAIN LAW IN COLORADO AND INCREASED FINES--SEPT 1, 2007 TO MAY 31, 2008

A new "must carry" chain law in Colorado required truck drivers operating on I-70 between mile 163 (Edward exit) and mile 259 (Marrison exit) to carry sufficient chains to be in compliance with Colorado's chain law from September 1, to May 31.  The new law also increased fines for violating Colorado's chain law.  Truck drivers who do not carry chains as outlined will be fined $50, plus a $17 surcharge.  Statewide, the fine for not chaining up when the chain law is in effect is $500, plus a $157 surcharge.  The Fine for not chaining and subsequently blocking the highway is $1,000, plus a $313 surcharge.  (Colorado's chain law level 1 required single drive axle combination vehicles to chain--not cable--all four drive wheels.  All other commercial motor vehicles must have snow tires or chains.  Chain law level 2 required all CMVs to chain up.  Single and tandem drive axle CMVs must chain four drive wheels.  Buses must chain two drive wheels.  No chains are required on trailers.)

There are two levels of the chain law:

  • Level 1, Code 17 – Single drive axle, combination commercial vehicles must chain up all four drive tires. Cables are not allowed in this instance. All other commercial vehicles must have either snow tires or chains to proceed.
  • Level 2, Code 18 – Chains are required for all commercial vehicles. Again, all four tires of single-drive tractors must be chained. For dual-drive axle tractors, you're only required to chain four drive tires. Outside tires of drive axles must have chains. Inside tires may have cables.

Chains or cables?

  • Chains, as well as wheel sanders – which carry enough sand to negotiate a hill – and pneumatically driven chains are allowed. Cables are allowed in some scenarios – such as on trailers and on the inside tires of dual-drive axles.

The Colorado regulations actually give the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Highway Patrol the power to dictate when chain laws go into effect.

Further information is available from CDOT in a pamphlet called "Chain up Tips" or by calling the Public Information Office at (303) 757-9228. Road condition information is at (303) 639-1111.

Difficult passes in Colorado include Rabbit Ears Pass on US 40, Vail and Loveland on I-70, Raton on I-25, and Monarch on US 50.

Delaware

Here's another state that permits the use of tire chains "for safety because of snow, ice or other conditions tending to cause a vehicle to slide or skid."

The governor recently signed a bill into law that allows state officials to restrict travel on highways during emergency situations. Three different levels of bans to choose from. A Level I ban encourages extreme caution when traveling roadways and advises that non-essential travel be avoided. A Level II ban permits travel only by emergency vehicles, essential government personnel, health care providers and vehicles carrying food and fuel. A Level III ban restricts travel to only emergency vehicles and essential employees such as snowplow operators. The Level III ban also prohibits retaliation by employers against employees complying with the travel ban.

 

Idaho

Idaho Motor Transport Association
5171 Overland Road
Boise, ID 83705
O: (208) 342-3521
F: (208) 343- 8397
kathyflowers@idtrucking.org
Paul Sudmeier - President

If the alert is in effect, you will have to chain up a minimum of one tire on each side of drive axles and one axle at or near the rear of each trailer.

There is a pending bill in the 2005 ID legislature forming chain laws for Idaho. Idaho has no specific restriction on the use of tire chains.

Summary:

  1. Studded tires authorized between October 1 and April 30.
  2. Do not use studded tires until conditions warrant.

For daily updated information on Idaho road reports, check the website: 164.165.237.41/RoadReport or call 888-IDA-Road (888-423-7623}. The ITD may be contacted at (208) 334-8000

Difficult passes in Idaho include LoLo on Hwy 12, July 4th and Lookout on I-90

Kentucky

There are no specific dates for the use of tire chains or how many must be used. However, the state is painstakingly specific about the type of chains that are permitted.

Here's the exact language from the Kentucky statute: "Where chains are used on rubber-tired vehicles, the cross chains shall be not more than three-fourths (3/4) of an inch in thickness or diameter, and shall be spaced not more than 10 inches apart, around the circumference of the tires."

Maryland

The Maryland regulations can be a bit misleading. In one section of the regulations, the state has the boilerplate language permitting the use of snow chains.

However, elsewhere in the regulations it is stated that chains may be required in Maryland if a snow emergency is declared. Snow emergencies can be declared for individual roads or statewide. Travel – other than for motorcycles – is prohibited on any highway that is designated and appropriately signposted as a vehicle emergency route … for which a snow emergency has been declared and is in effect, unless the vehicle is equipped with chains or snow tires on at least one wheel at each end of a driving axle.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts prohibits the use of studded tires and chains between May 1 and Nov. 1 without a permit. The law does not specifically mention chains; however, the Massachusetts State Patrol confirmed the regulation applies the same way for chains. It should also be noted that commercial vehicles can be ordered off the roadways during "snow emergencies."

Michigan

Chains, of "reasonable proportion," can be used for safety because of snow, ice or other conditions tending to cause a vehicle to skid. However, guidance provided by the state says that if chains are used, "the chain must not come in contact with the road."

Missouri

There are no laws on the books mandating or prohibiting the use of chains when the roads are covered with snow or ice

Montana

Montana Motor Carriers Association
501 North Sanders #201
Helena, MT 59601
O: (406) 442-6600
F: (406) 443-4281
mmca@mttrucking.org

Summary:

  1. Tire chains of reasonable proportions.
  2. Studded tires authorized October 1 - May 31.
  3. Local authorities in their respective jurisdictions may issue special permits.
  4. Chain law overrules studded tires.

Contact Curt Rissman, Section Chief, Motor Vehicle Section at (406) 444-6130 for further information about Montana road information or online at  discoveringMontana.com for camera view conditions.

Difficult passes in Montana include Lookout and Pipestone on I-90, LoLo on US 93, and Monida on I-15

New Mexico

New Mexico Trucking Association
4809 Jefferson Street, NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109
O: (505) 884-5575
F: (505) 884-3661
Vic Sheppard - Managing Director

The New Mexico chain Law: 66-3-847 may be viewed at www.conwaygreene.com/nmsu/lpext.dll?f=templates&fn=main-h.htm&2.0

Summary:

  1. Tire chains of reasonable proportions.
  2. Local authorities in their respective jurisdictions may issue special permits.
  3. Studded tires are authorized.

More traveler information is available by calling (800) 432-4269 or online at www.nmshtd.state.nm.us/.

Difficult passes in New Mexico include Raton and Lalabahada Hill on I-25 and Tijeras Canyon on I-40

Nevada

Nevada Motor Transport Association
2215 Green Vista Drive Suite 301
Sparks, NV 89431-8508
O: (775) 673-6111
F: (775) 673-1700
www.nmta.com
Ray Roach- Assistant Managing Director

The Nevada chain requirements: NRS 484.643 and NRS 484.6432 may be viewed at www.nevadadot.com.

Summary:

  1. Studded tires authorized October 1 - April 30.
  2. NRS 484.643 requires chains or snow tires when posted.
  3. NRS 484.6432 require vehicles > 10,000 lbs. to chain when posted.
  4. Vehicles over 10,000 lbs. are permitted in chain control areas if equipped with Mechanical Traction Devices (MTD) on drive axles.
  5. Trailers must be chained.
  6. Minimum tread depth on Mud and Snow tires is 3/16".
  7. All vehicles towing trailers must have chains on the drive tires.
  8. Trailers with brakes must be chained on one axle.
  9. Front wheel drive must have chains on the front axle.
  10. On any semi-trailer only one set of chains is required.
  11. Tags and converter dollies not required to be chained.

More traveler information is available by calling (877) 687-6237 or online at www.nevadadot.com/traveler/roads/.

Difficult passes in Nevada include Conway Summit on US 395 at the California border, and Immigrant Pass on I-80 near Battle Mountain.

New Jersey

New Jersey goes a little beyond the standard "chains are permitted when needed" directive. The state allows chains of reasonable proportions when roads, streets and highways are slippery, because of rain, snow, ice, oil, manner of construction or other reason.

However, "no chains shall be used at any time on improved highways when highway conditions do not make such use necessary for the safety of life or property." Also, New Jersey prohibits the use of chains "likely to be thrown so as to endanger any person or property."

New York

If New York officials, either state or local, post a route as a snow emergency route, all vehicles traveling on it will be required to have snow tires and/or chains. There are no specifics in the regulations mandating the number of chains or placement.

 

Oregon

Oregon Trucking Association
4005 S.E Naef Road
Portland, OR 97267
O: (503) 513-0005
F: (503) 513-0008
hilliker@ortrucking.org
John Sallak - Director of Safety

The Oregon chain law: OAR 734-17 may be viewed at arcweb.sos.state.or.us/rules/OARS_700/OAR_734/734_017.html.

Placement

Again, you have a few options for which tires you are required to chain on the tractor, so here goes:

  • A tandem-drive axle tractor must have chains on two tires on each side of the primary drive axle (in other words, all four tires of the main axle); or
  • If both axles are powered, one tire on each side of each drive axle (again, four chains total required; you just don't have to chain the inside tires).

Now on the trailer, here's the deal:

Chains must also be placed on two tires, one on each side, of any axle on the trailer. The chains can be both on the front axle, both on the rear axle or staggered with one outside tire on the front and the outside tire of the opposite rear axle.

Summary:

  1. Studded tires authorizes November 1 - April 1.
  2. Chain law applies to all roadways.
  3. Signage dictates requirements.
  4. Drivers who disregard signage are subject to fines.

More traveler information may be found by calling (503) 588-2941. For questions regarding chain-up requirements for commercial vehicles, contact your local Port of Entry or ODOT at (800) 977-6368 or online at www.tripcheck.com/.

Difficult passes in Oregon include Siskiyou on I-5, Cabbage on I-84, and Mt. Hood on US 26.

Pennsylvania

Another emergency snow route state here. If officials declare a snow emergency route when the roadway is covered with ice or snow, only vehicles with snow tires or "tire chains on two tires on a driven axle" may proceed.

South Dakota

The South Dakota DOT has the authority to restrict travel on roads. Signs will alert you to these restrictions. Tire chains or "sufficient traction devices" are allowed. You don't have to wait for the signs to tell you to put on your chains. Chains are also permitted if conditions tending to cause a skid are present.

Tennessee

Tennessee sends mixed signals with its regulations. In one reg, it says that it is "permissible" to use snow chains when conditions warrant. However, elsewhere, the Volunteer State requires that every truck "likely to encounter" conditions requiring chains carry at least one set.

So to be safe, you might want to have a couple of chains on board and ready to go.

Utah

Utah Trucking Association
975 W 2100S
Salt Lake City, UT 84119
O: (801) 973-9370
F: (801) 973-8515
Terry@utahtrucking.com
Terry Smith - Director of Safety

The Utah chain law: 41-6-150 may be viewed at www.sr.ex.state.ut.us/.

Summary:

  1. Utah only requires tire chains where posted.
  2. The chains should have minimum traction.
  3. Studded tires are authorized October 15 - April 15.

More traveler information may be found by calling (866) 511-8824 or online at www.udot.utah.gov.

Difficult passes in Utah include Daniels on US 40, Soldiers Summit on Hwy 6, and Parlyes Canyon on I-80.

Vermont

Vermont has a "traffic committee" that will decide if use of chains will be required. The reg mandates that the "advance notice shall be given to the traveling public through signage and, whenever possible, through public service announcements." This language also mandates that adequate space be provided to chain up.

The regulation does not outline the required number or placement of chains.

 

 

Washington

Washington Truckers Association
930 South 36th Street Suite B
Federal Way, WA 98003
O: (800) 732-9019
O: (253) 838-1650
F: (253) 838-1715
www.wta@wtassns.com
N Miller - VP of Membership

The Washington chain law: WAC 204-24-050 may be viewed at www.wsdot.wa.gov/.

Chains must be carried Nov. 1 through April 1. It takes five chains to comply with the requirement. However, all vehicles of more than 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight must carry two extra chains for use in the event that road conditions require the use of more chains or in the event that chains in use are broken or otherwise made useless.

Chains or cables?

Chains must have two sides attached with cross-sections. Cables can be permitted. Plastic chains are prohibited.

Placement

On a dual axle trailer the outside tires on both axles will need to be chained in addition to one tire on either side of either trailer axle.

Route specific

On the following routes all vehicles and combinations of vehicles of more than 10,000 pounds shall carry sufficient tire chains to meet the requirements:

  • Snoqualmie Pass I-90, North Bend (MP 32) and Ellensburg (MP 101)
  • Blewett Pass Route 97, between MP 145 and
  • MP 185
  • Stevens Pass Route 2, Dryden (MP 108) to Index (MP 36)
  • White Pass Route 12, Packwood (MP 135) to Naches (MP 187)
  • Satus Pass Route 97, Columbia River (MP 00) to Toppenish (MP 59)
  • Chinook Pass Route 410, Enumclaw (MP 25) to SR-12 (MP 342)
  • Sherman Pass Route 20, Tonasket (MP 262) to Kettle Falls (MP 342)
  • Omak to Nespelem Route 155, Omak (MP 79) to Nespelem (MP 45)
  • Cle Elum to Teanaway Route 970, Cle Elum
  • (MP 0) to Teanaway (MP 10)
  • Gibbons Creek to Intersection of Cliffs Road Route 14, Gibbons Creek (MP 18) to intersection of Cliffs Rd. (MP 108)
  • Newhalem to Winthrop Route 20, Newhalem
  • (MP 120) to Winthrop (MP 192)
  • Mount Baker Highway Route 542, (MP22) to (MP 57)
  • Ellensburg to Selah I-82 from Ellensburg (MP 3) to Selah (MP 26)

Washington State Patrol has a tri-fold pamphlet called "Minimum Chain Requirements" giving details on chain positioning. More traveler information may be found by calling (800) 695 7623 or online at www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/trafficalerts/.

Wyoming

Wyoming Trucking Association, Inc.
555 Poplar Street
Casper, WY 82601
O: (307) 234-1579
F: (307) 234-7082
Sheila Foertsch - Managing Director

The Wyoming chain law: 31 5 956 may be viewed at www.wyoroad.info/

When Wyoming officials enact the chain law, commercial vehicles must have chains on at least the two outside tires of one drive axle. Signs notify you when the chain law is in effect.

Not complying can cost you a minimum of $250. But, if you block the highway because you don't have chains on, expect a $750 fine. LL

Summary:

  1. Studded tires are legal all year.
  2. Tire chains of reasonable proportions.
  3. Local authorities in their respective jurisdictions may issue special permits.
  4. Travel on highways may be restricted to all wheel drive or chain equipped vehicles/snow tires.
  5. Minimum tread depth is 4/32 steer; 2/32 other position.
  6. Persons selling tires must comply with minimum tread depth.
  7. Applies to motorcycles, motor-driven cycles and mopeds.

More traveler information may be found by calling (307) 772-0824 or online at www.wyoroad.info/.

Difficult passes in Wyoming include Elk Mountain on I-80, between Rock Springs and Evanston on I-80, and South Pass near Jackson on US 191.