How – and When – To Use Snow Chains

In many parts of North America, it’s possible for a truck driver to go their entire career without experiencing snowy weather.  Not so here in Canada – snowy winters are the norm, and winter storms can roll in with very little notice, especially in mountainous areas (of which we have a few).

When driving in winter, you want to take every possible precaution against the weather.  It’s common (and in some locations, required by law) that operators of heavy commercial vehicles carry snow chains that fit over the wheels of the truck and increase traction in snowy and icy conditions.  These chains can be especially helpful in mountain passes, which have a steep grade and are prone to deep snowfall because of their altitude.

Regulations and recommendations for chain usage vary widely from place to place.

Typically, a minimal installation of chains would be single sets of chains on two of the tractor’s drive wheels (usually the forward set) and a set of chains on the rearmost wheels on the trailer.  A maximum installation might require installation of “triples”, chains that cover both sets of tires on a dual axle.  These might be required for all 8 drive wheels on a tractor, with triples hung on the rearmost wheels of the trailer.

Tire chains can’t be used when the road isn’t snow or ice covered, so they must be installed in the field.  They’re heavy, and they require you to spend time outside of the cab of the truck in poor weather.  Remember, safety first – find a safe turnout where you can install your chains, and ensure that you’re adequately dressed for the weather.

It’s best to practice installing your chains when you don’t need them  – when the weather is good and you can access some help if you run into problems.

Chains or no, there are some winter conditions that are best not driven in.  As the driver of the truck, you are the final judge.  If you determine that the weather isn’t safe for you to drive in, park your truck and wait it out.  Delivery times can be rescheduled, and no load is worth your life.

To learn more about a career in the trucking industry, check out Winnipeg’s premiere driver training facility, First Class Training Centre.  Contact us online or call Toll Free 1-(855) 632-5302.