winter driving

Minimum Chain Requirements – Western States

OCTOBER 2008 UPDATE:

******* Well, it’s that time of year again. Although most states don’t require you to carry chains until November 1st, if traveling in Oregon or California, you must be prepared for winter driving. If the chain law is up, don’t assume because you don’t have your chains on your truck yet you won’t have to chain. Oregon issues citations year round if you travel in a snow prone area and don’t use chains. Long story short, watch the Weather Channel at truck stops near areas that chains might be required. This week, heavy snow is forecast for the mountains of the Eastern Sierra, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. Eisenhower Pass in Colorado on I70 has already had it’s share of winter weather already. Below is a reprint of past postings about the chain laws in the western states. Be safe, drive carefully and stay put if it’s not safe to travel. *******

** Editor Note: Although these chain laws are from the Oregon DOT Website, most western states including California and Washington are very similar. Oregon claims to have the toughest chain law on the west coast. By using this information, the Trucking Blog makes no guarantee that these laws are in fact applicable in other states. Please check with each individual state DOT authority for the applicable chain laws. Although, the minimum amount of chains required, usually about 6 sets, should be ok for all western states you may enter. California has an additional requirement for at least one set of double chains on your primary drive axle when maximum chain law is in effect. I carry 6 sets, two back-ups and 1 set of double chains. Also, I use at least 3 medium, rubber bungees per chain. This keeps loose chain links properly tightened and lessens the chance of chain breakage. **

When you drive in winter conditions, you may see signs telling you to carry chains or traction tires and when you are required to use them. In some areas, lighted message signs also will advise you about chaining up. To view the signs or learn more about Oregon’s chain law and the vehicles that may be exempt
from it go to Oregon’s Chain Law.

When signs tell you that chains are required on all or certain types of vehicles, chains must be placed as generally described below. Specific information on chain requirements is listed in Oregon Administrative Rule Chapter 734, Division 17. To view the administrative rule go to: http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/rules/OARS_700/OAR_734/734_017.html.

In typical winter conditions, vehicles rated at 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight (GVW) or less and not towing or being towed are allowed to use traction tires in place of chains. For traction tire information go to Traction Tires.

In very bad winter road conditions all vehicles may be required to use chains regardless of the type of vehicle or type of tire being used. This is known as a conditional road closure. A conditional road closure may occur on any of Oregon’s highways and are frequent in the winter on Interstate 5 through the Siskiyou Pass south of Ashland.

The following provides examples of chain placement based on vehicle and trailer configurations. It is not the intent of the following examples to portray or suggest mixing of different types or designs of tires on a single axle. For these examples, please use the following legend.

Legend


Unchained wheel icon

Tire without chain.

Chained wheel icon

Tire with chain.*

Icon indicating that either axle can be used.

Chains may be placed on either axle.

Icon indicating that either axle can be used.

Chains may be placed on either side.

*Note: When one tire of a dual-wheel axle is required to have a chain, the chain may be placed on either the inside or outside tire.

Light Duty Vehicles

Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) rating of 10,000 pounds or less such as a passenger car or light truck.

Light duty vehicles must use chains on one tire on each side of the primary drive axle. When towing, chains must also be on one tire on each side of one axle of a trailer that is equipped with a brake. Traction tires may be used in place of chains when the vehicle is not towing or being towed.

Graphic of chains on rear-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles Graphic of chains on rear-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles

Graphic of chains on auto trailers. Graphic of chains on auto trailers. Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Medium Duty Vehicles

Vehicles with a GVW rating of more than 10,000 pounds but less than 26,001 pounds such as buses, RVs, and cargo vehicles.

Single-drive axle medium duty vehicles must have chains on one tire on each side of the drive axle.

Graphic showing chains position on single-drive axle buses and trucks.

Tandem-drive axle medium duty vehicles must have chains on two tires on each side of the primary drive axle; or if both axles are powered by the drive line, one tire on each side of each drive axle.

Graphic showing chain positions on tandem-drive axle buses.

A medium duty vehicle with one single-wheel axle and one dual-wheel axle must have chains on one tire on each side of the dual-wheel axle.

Graphic showing chain positions on tandem-drive axle buses.

When towing, chains must also be on one tire on each side of one axle of a trailer that is equipped with a brake.


Graphic of chains on auto trailers. Graphic of chains on auto trailers. Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Solo Commercial Vehicles

Vehicles with a GVW rating of 26,001 pounds or more that are not towing.

Single-drive axle solo commercial vehicles must have chains on one tire on each side of the drive axle.


Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Tandem-drive axle solo commercial vehicles must have chains on two tires on each side of the primary drive axle; or if both axles are powered by the drive line, on one tire on each side of each drive axle.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Commercial Vehicles with Trailers

Vehicles with a GVW rating of 26,001 pounds or more that are towing one or more trailers.

Single-drive axle commercial vehicles towing a trailer must have chains on two tires on each side of the drive axle and one tire on the front axle and one tire on one of the rear axles of the trailer.


Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Single-drive axle commercial vehicles towing a semi-trailer must have chains on two tires on each side of the drive axle and two tires, one on each side, of any axle of the semi-trailer.


Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Single-drive axle commercial vehicles towing both a semi-trailer and a trailer must have chains on two tires on each side of the drive axle, two tires, one on each side, of any axle of the semi-trailer, and one tire on the front axle and one tire on one of the rear axles of the trailer.


Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Tandem-drive axle commercial vehicles towing a trailer must 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. Chains must also be placed on one tire of the front axle, and one tire on one of the rear axles of the trailer.


Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Tandem-drive axle commercial vehicles towing a semi-trailer must 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. Chains must also be placed on two tires, one on each side, of any axle on the semi-trailer.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Tandem-drive axle commercial vehicles towing both a semi-trailer and a trailer must 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. Chains must also be placed on two tires, one on each side of any axle on the semi-trailer and one tire on the front axle and one tire on one of the rear axles of the trailer.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Tandem-drive axle commercial vehicles towing a semi-trailer and a semi-trailer that are connected by kingpin-to-fifth wheel assembles, commonly referred to as a “B-Train” or connected by kingpin-to-fifth wheel “C-dolly” assemblies, commonly referred to as a “C-Train”, must 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. Chains must also be placed on two tires, one on each side, of any axle of the semi-trailer at the B-Train or C-Train connection and on two tires, one on each side, of any axle of the rear semi-trailer.


Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

For questions regarding chain-up requirements for commercial vehicles, contact your local ODOT Port of Entry.

*** Reprinted from the State of Oregon DOT Website, All laws and recommendations are for informational purposes only. The Trucking Blog claims no responsibility for mis-use or mis-information of the chain laws. PLEASE CONTACT THE LOCAL PORT OF ENTRY OR STATE DOT OFFICE FOR OFFICIAL LAWS CONCERNING TRAVEL IN THAT STATE. WE WILL NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ERRONEOUS INFORMATION THAT RESULTS IN FINES AND/OR DELAYS IN TRANSIT BECAUSE OF THIS INFORMATION. Thanks! ***

Rough Week in Eastern Oregon

To say that the Northwest has had it’s share of winter storms is an understatement to say the least! With over 8 times the normal snowfall so far this season, many truckers have found it difficult to traverse the Cascades towards the Seattle and Portland areas. Here are just a few pictures taken by the Oregon State Patrol over the past few days. Apparently the truck above was just plain tired and decided to lay down along side I84 on Cabbage Hill and take a nap!

This guy above had a heck of a time keeping his trailer upright as heavy winds on I84 along Cabbage Hill took him for a ride. The picture below was taken Tuesday along I84 a few miles east of Baker City, Oregon. Not a good day for those folks.

The unlucky driver of the truck below even chained up yesterday and took a ride down the side of a hill east of Baker City, Oregon. These are only a few of the numerous accidents involving trucks this week on I84. The biggest reason for these accidents is SPEED!! Personally, I have counted at least 8 big rigs off the road and into the ditch. Today, just east of the Farewell Bend POE, a D & D Trucking tractor and trailer were sitting off the road, jackknifed, and in the river. A few miles down, I noticed the aftermath of the picture below. When I got to the top of Ladd Canyon, a tanker truck, hauling acid, was on it’s side over the embankment. I was traveling at 55 MPH and it was really too fast for conditions. Even though conditions were almost “white out”, I was passed by several trucks that were easily traveling at least 65 or 70 MPH. Please SLOW down, no load is worth dieing for!

Storms on horizon poised to cause havoc!


Weed, CA – Calm before the blizzard!

I couldn’t help but to share this photo that I took this morning in Weed, California. If you notice the truck on the left, on a normal day, you would be able to see the towering Mt. Shasta that rises over 14,000 feet on the southeast side of Weed.

When I took this photo, the wind was howling at a sustained rate of at least 40 MPH with gusts of 50 t0 60 MPH. The snow was starting to come down horizontally and it proved to be a difficult day for snow removal crews. The National Weather Service issued a severe winter warning for the area and stated that the series of storms expected to hit Northern California were expected to create a “momentous” event. Several Feet of snow are predicted for the area through Sunday morning. As of about 2 PM PST, I5 was shut down because of difficult and hazardous driving conditions. It was unknown if the freeway was later reopened.

Drivers are asked to check the California Department of Transportation website, CALTRANS, or call the road condition information line for updates on conditions along I5 and also I80 over Donner Summit. If your load doesn’t have to deliver this weekend, it might be a good idea to rent a hotel room and wait the storm out. This series of storms is expected to be one of the worst seen in several years. Also, before traveling north on I5 or east on I80, commercial drivers MUST have the maximum number of chains for their vehicle or risk being turned around and possibly be fined.

Good luck, drive slow and drive safe!