Winter travel laws are now in effect

  • Written by Washington State Department of Transportation
OLYMPIA – Drivers traveling over Washington’s mountain pass highways should now carry a few extra items. For those piloting heavy trucks, that should become a must.

As of Nov. 1, state law requires commercial vehicles and combinations of vehicles heavier than 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating to carry sufficient tire chains. This law also affects some larger passenger trucks, SUVs, recreational vehicles and trucks hauling trailers that exceed 10,000 GVW.

State Patrol troopers will strictly enforce the Nov. 1 deadline.

The WSP will have a special chain-emphasis patrol in early November to ensure drivers are carrying the appropriate number of chains, including spares. Failing to carry chains will cost drivers $124.When highway advisories call for chains, drivers who don’t chain up will face a $500 penalty.

Some vehicle manufacturers recommend against the use of tire chains, so the State Patrol provides a list of approved, alternative traction devices when chain requirements are in place (

Studded tires do not meet the chain requirement and are legal for use only between Nov. 1 and March 31 in Washington. Drivers are encouraged to visit a tire dealer to learn more about tires that provide traction and are legal for year-round use.

It takes just 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 on the Washington State Department of Transportation’s winter driving website.

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 (

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

• Prepare vehicles for winter 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 the traction and chain requirements. Mountain-pass traction and chain requirements are available on the WSDOT website, highway advisory signs and highway advisory radio.

• Preset Highway Advisory Radio stations 530 AM and 1610 AM before traveling.

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