Newstalk KBKW

Time to trade those sunglasses and sandals for ice scrapers and chains

WSDOT asks drivers to always “know before you go” and get the most recent roadway information, winter-driving tips, car-preparation advice and information on the department’s winter driving Web page.

Here’s what drivers can do to prepare for wintry roadway conditions:

  • Download, print and carry the WSDOT Winter Driving Guide.
  • Download the WSDOT mobile app for smartphones.
  • Sign up for news and social media tools, such as Twitter at www.wsdot.wa.gov/inform.
  • Get your car ready and plan extra time to cross all mountain passes, including heavily-traveled routes such as Snoqualmie Pass, Stevens Pass and White Pass.
  • Carry chains and know current traction and chain requirements. Mountain-pass traction and chain requirements are available on the WSDOT website, highway advisory signs and highway advisory radio.
  • Preset 530 AM and 1610 AM on your vehicle’s radio before traveling.

Some vehicle manufacturers recommend against the use of tire chains. The Washington State Patrol provides a list of approved, alternative traction devices that are acceptable when chains or traction tires are required.

Studded tires are legal for use only between Nov. 1 and March 31 in Washington state. Motorists are encouraged to visit a tire dealer to learn more about tires that provide traction and are legal for year-round use.

The WSP also reminds all drivers and freight haulers that state law requires commercial vehicles and combinations of vehicles more than 10,000 pounds (GVW) rating to carry sufficient tire chains between Nov. 1 and April 1, including some larger passenger trucks, SUVs, recreational vehicles and trucks hauling trailers. Failing to carry chains could lead to a $124 fine for heavy-truck drivers.

When highway advisories call for chains, drivers who don’t chain up will face a $500 penalty. The WSP will have a special chain-emphasis patrol to ensure drivers are carrying the appropriate number of chains, including spares. 

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