Tires, chains, being prepared - hot accessories this winter

  • Written by Washington DOT

OLYMPIA – As the season’s fashion changes from shorts and sandals to umbrellas and scarves, don’t forget to update that other winter wardrobe – your vehicle’s.

Preparedness doesn’t just look smart; it is smart. Taking the time to prepare for winter driving can help keep roads open and the economy moving. It takes only one unprepared or careless driver to slow or stop traffic.

Always “know before you go” and get the most recent roadway information, winter driving tips, car preparation advice and information about Washington State Department of Transportation’s winter operations on our winter driving Web page.

The Washington State Patrol reminds all drivers and freight haulers that state law requires commercial vehicles and combinations of vehicles more than 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) to carry sufficient tire chains between Nov. 1 and April 1. That includes some larger passenger trucks, SUVs, recreational vehicles and trucks hauling trailers.

Troopers will strictly enforce the Nov. 1 deadline. Failing to carry chains will cost heavy-truck drivers $124. 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 in early November to make sure drivers carry the proper number of chains to include the spares.

In Washington, studded tires are legal for use only between Nov. 1 and March 31. Motorists are encouraged to visit their tire dealers for chains and find out about tires that provide traction and are legal for use year-round.

Here’s what drivers can do to prepare their winter roadway wardrobe:

• Download, print and carry the WSDOT Winter Driving Guide from

• Get your car ready and plan extra time to cross all mountain passes, including heavily-traveled routes such as I-90 Snoqualmie Pass, US 2 Stevens Pass and US 12 White Pass.

• Carry chains and know the traction and chain requirements – Mountain pass traction and chain requirements are available on the WSDOT website, highway advisory signs and highway advisory radio.

• Program 530 AM and 1610 AM on your radio before you leave.

• Sign up for news and social media tools, such as Twitter at

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