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Almost every state has its own set of chain laws for when tire chains can be used, should be used, or must be used, along with when they’re prohibited. In certain areas of the country, the rattle and clank of tire chains on vehicles was a familiar sound and considered essential in snowy states. Some states require heavy haulers to carry tire chains at all times, while others don’t. There are also laws governing how many chains should be utilized and their placement.

Weather Conditions

Tire chains are typically utilized in higher elevations where snow and icy conditions can occur at any time, especially during winter months, or if a snow emergency has been declared. Requirements vary widely and fines may be issued for inappropriate usage, depending on the state chain laws. For instance, CA doesn’t require drivers to carry chains, while CO requires chains, and allows pneumatically driven chains and wheel sanders.


To comply with regulations, some states require at least eight chains, and some only mandate tire chains on the tractor’s tires. Some states mandate tire chains on all four tires of the main drive axle, chains on the outside tires of the second drive axle, and the option to place the remaining chains anywhere the driver designates. In some instances, tire chains are only required when driving upon specific routes.

Chain Laws

Further complicating when tire chains should or shouldn’t be used is state law. Heavy Haul truckers need to be aware of the chain laws in the state in which they find themselves. Some states reserve the right to issue snow emergencies for all of the state or in limited areas, which will directly affect whether heavy haulers employ the chains. Even with chains, state police have the authority to order truckers off the road during a snow emergency.

It’s a good idea for any heavy haul trucker to carry tire chains if they’re transporting cargo within states where winter snows are common or in higher elevations. They’re an essential tool for obtaining traction on snow and ice, and enhance safety.

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