Got Snow Chains?
Winter driving on roads and highways in the snowcapped mountains of Lake Tahoe can be a pleasant experience or it can be frustrating, tiring and sometimes even hazardous. The California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Transportation provides the following information to help make your mountain driving safe and pleasant.
“R” ratings on snowy roads indicate chain requirements for various reasons. To qualify in a chain control area as a snow tire, the designation Mud & Snow, or an abbreviation such as “M-S” or “m/s” or “M+S”, “ALL-SEASON” or “ALL-TERRAIN” will be marked on the sidewall. A tire marked as described is not considered a snow tire unless it has a minimum 6/32″ tread depth.
– R-1 chains required except for vehicles with snow tires however motorists are required to carry chains. Chains are required for any vehicle towing a trailer and if the towed vehicle is equipped with brakes there must be a chained axle on each vehicle.
– R-2 chains are required except for 4 wheel drive vehicles with snow tires. Chains are required for any 4 wheel drive vehicle towing a trailer and if the towed vehicle is equipped with brakes there must be a chained axle on each vehicle.
– R-3 chains are required on all vehicles.
Carry chains in snow conditions, even if your vehicle has 4-wheel drive, and observe the speed limit in chain control areas”25 mph on two-lane roads and 30 mph on multi-lane roads.
R1 and R2 are the most common conditions. The highway is usually closed before an R3 condition is imposed.
You must stop and put on chains when highway signs indicate chains are required. You can be cited by the California Highway Patrol and fined if you don’t. You will usually have about a mile between “Chains Required” signs and the checkpoint to install your chains.
Control areas can change rapidly from place to place because of changing weather and road conditions.
The speed limit when chains are required is 25 or 30 miles an hour and will be posted along the highway.
When you put on chains, wait until you can pull completely off the roadway to the right. Do not stop in a traffic lane where you will endanger yourself and block traffic.
Chain Installers: If you use the services of a chain installer, be sure to get a receipt and jot the installer’s badge number on it. Remember, chain installers are independent business people, not Caltrans employees. Having the badge number may help with any misunderstandings later. Chain installers are NOT allowed to sell or rent chains.
When removing chains, drive beyond the signs reading “End of Chain Control” to a pull-off area where you can safely remove them.