The Utah Department of Transportation has a chain law in place for drivers.

Exploring Utah Chain Law And Our Top Snow Tire Tips

In 2023 alone, Utah had over 3,900 traffic accidents related to harsh weather conditions. This is a 65% increase compared to the previous year. Many of these accidents could have been avoided if drivers obeyed tire chain laws.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune

Having adequate snow tires and chains and following the specific laws set out by the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) are vital if you want to avoid road accidents that could become fatal.

⚠️ The Case of Brittany Kidd
A canyon patrol driver named Brittany Kidd was involved in a near-fatal accident as a result of a vehicle not having proper chains on its tires.
The wreck that injured Brittany Kidd happened during a harsh winter storm in Big Cottonwood Canyon when another driver lost control of their vehicle and hit her truck straight on. Her vehicle slammed into an embankment.
The other car rolled down a 250-foot mountainside into a creek.
Although no one was seriously injured, this is a perfect example of just how dangerous it is to drive without adequate tire chains or other traction devices in severe weather.

In this article, we will share:

➡️ What you need to know about the chain laws in Utah.

➡️ What traction devices are and how to choose the best one for your vehicle.

➡️ Our top tips for driving with certified snow tires.

➡️ Where you can get the best advice on your snow tires ahead of the winter weather.

What Is Utah’s Chain Law?

The UDOT has set out certain rules for Utah drivers that regulate the snow chains and tires you should use in winter months. This is called the chain or traction law.

These rules aim to keep roads safe for all drivers and ensure vehicles are prepared for dangerous conditions.

⚠️ Fines or Jail for Not Obeying Tire Chain Laws
Failure to follow the Utah law for tire chains can lead to serious consequences. It is classified as a class B misdemeanor, which can result in a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in jail.

The law is in effect wherever you see flashing lights on Canyon highway signs. 

According to the regulations, all drivers must use steel link or cable chains on their drive tires, or they must use tires with a mud and snow (M+S or M/S) code in these areas.

The laws that govern tire chains and winter tires differ depending on the vehicle you’re driving.

🚗 All-wheel or four-wheel-drive vehicles 

If you own a car that has four or all-wheel drive—which is when a vehicle’s engine sends power to all four wheels at once—it must, at the minimum, be fitted with M+S or M/S tires, as well as acceptable traction devices such as chains, snow socks, or studded tires.

3 Peak Mountain Snowflake (3PMSF) tires—which meet the requirements for snow conditions—are also acceptable. 

Source: UDOT

🚗 Two-wheel-drive vehicles

Most passenger cars and light-duty trucks that are two-wheel-drive vehicles must have 3PMSF tires on all wheels to meet the minimum requirement. 

The same rule for all-wheel-drive cars also applies to two-wheel-drive vehicles in that you must use traction devices.

🚗 Commercial vehicles

The typical gross vehicle weight (GVW) of a commercial vehicle—such as buses and trucks—is typically over 12,000 lbs. These vehicles must have traction devices such as chains or snow socks on all drive wheels.

You can use this Utah Department of Transportation infographic to determine what safety measures you must take in harsh weather conditions.

Source: UDOT

⚠️ Utah Roads Closures in Winter Weather
The UDOT closes several roads each year from around November to May or June. Utah is known for its severe winter weather—hence UDOT’s extensive tire chain laws.
You can expect the following snowy roads to be closed throughout winter, according to the UDOT website:
S.R. 39 Monte Cristo (east of Ogden).S.R. 65 East Canyon (northeast of Salt Lake City).S.R. 190 Guardsman Pass (Brighton to Park City).S.R. 224 Guardsman Pass (Park City to Midway).S.R. 92 American Fork Canyon / Alpine Loop.S.R. 150 Mirror Lake Highway (east of Kamas to near the Wyoming border).S.R. 35 Wolf Creek Summit (east of Francis to the west of Hanna).S.R. 153 Mount Holly (east of Beaver above Eagle Point Resort).S.R. 148 Cedar Breaks National Monument (east of Cedar City).

What Are Traction Devices?

Traction devices are designed to be fitted to snow tires as they help your vehicle’s wheels cut through the snow and grip the road.

Tire traction devices include:

🔗 Tire chains: This is the most commonly used traction device used on tires to provide better grip on the road.

🔗 Claws: These are installed by using straps that attach to the outside of the tire.

🔗 Auto socks: A newer technology that is textile-based and wraps around the entire tire.

🔗 Spikes: These are easier to install compared to tire chains and often look much more appealing. They are installed on the front of the tire as one piece.

🔗 Traction mats: These are used by stranded drivers when their vehicles get stuck in snow or mud, and they must be placed on the ground in front of your tires when accelerating to provide extra grip.

You can watch this video from UDOT to see traction devices in action.

[Insert Video:]

Our Top Five Tips for Your Snow Tires and Chains

Since most drivers rely on tire chains for bad weather, here are some of our top tips for driving with these devices.

❄️ Regular inspections are crucial

When you first fit your chains, drive for a short period and then re-fit them if needed. Two to three minutes of driving should be enough for you to determine if you’ve installed the chains correctly.

Get prepared for the upcoming Utah winter season with a tire changeover service from Burt Brothers.

While testing your chains out, ensure you speed up, slow down, and even drive through some snow to assess if they’re working as they should.

The inspection doesn’t end once you’re happy with your fitment. 

To ensure you’re always safe on the road, you need to inspect your tire chains regularly. Your chains take a beating each time you drive and can wear down quickly.

If a chain slips or breaks because it is worn out, you could be in serious danger, and it could cause damage to your brake system, wheel, and tires.

For these reasons, it’s essential that you check your snow chains regularly and especially before long trips when you know the weather is going to be bad.

❄️ Remove your chains on dry roads

As you’re driving, keep an eye on the road to determine whether or not it’s dry. Snow chains should never be used on dry road surfaces as this can damage both your chains and the road.

If you want to avoid the costly expense of having to replace damaged chains or tires, look out for any stretches of road that are clear of mud or snow. When you approach these stretches, be sure to remove your tires’ traction devices.

Also, driving with tire chains on dry roads typically uses more fuel than driving without them. So, if you want to save on gas, ensure you take them off when necessary.

❄️ Take care as you drive

Tire chains are great for navigating your way down snowy or muddy roads, but they don’t prevent slips entirely. For this reason, don’t rely solely on your tire chains to keep you safe. Instead, take precautions as you drive.

It is suggested that you drive less than 30 miles per hour if you carry chains on your tires. High speeds can also damage your chains from the impact and friction of the road. 

The manufacturer of your snow chains will typically stipulate the speed that you can drive when you have them on.

Avoid accelerating or braking suddenly, which can lead to skidding on your chains. Snow chains can also interfere with your car’s computer lock braking system and give you false readings.

Also, stay off bare tar, as this can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. The chains could also break, which can damage your car and tires.

❄️ Learn the traffic laws of the states you’re traveling through

If you only travel in and around Utah, knowledge of the state’s chain laws is all you need. 

However, if you travel throughout the U.S., it’s important to know that each state’s rules and regulations differ.

Before you set out on your journey, be sure to check the laws of the states you will be traveling through to ensure you don’t end up earning hefty fines or getting turned away from your destination.

Most states have dedicated websites for their own Department of Transportation, and you can find their individual rules online.

❄️ Cleaning and storage

Once the weather has started to change and there isn’t much snow or mud left on the roads, it’s time to take your snow chains off your tires.

It’s important to take caution when you remove the chains so as not to injure yourself and to ensure they’re kept in the best shape possible so they can be used again.

After removing the chains, be sure to give them a good clean. If you don’t clean them now, it will be much harder to get mud, dust, and debris off the chains when you want to use them next year.

Storing the chains properly is also important, as they can corrode and become damaged over time. To save costs on buying new chains each year, make sure you store them somewhere safe indoors where they’re protected from the elements.

Get Your Tires and Chains Installed by Experts for Ultimate Safety

There’s a lot you can do to ensure your safety when you’re out on the road in bad weather, including having your snow tires and chains installed correctly. 

Ensure you’re 100% safe out on the road by having your snow chains and certified tires installed by one of our wheel and tire experts.

At Burt Brothers, we know tire chain laws inside and out, and we know exactly how to fit your chains to ensure traveling in winter is a breeze.

To stay on the right side of the law and keep you protected while driving, visit our website to schedule an appointment to have the right tires and chains fitted.

Schedule a zero-commitment appointment
to get the help you need, fast.

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