You are planning a trip through California and Nevada via Interstate 80. You set out early in the morning on your first day with nothing but beautiful blue skies out the windshield. By the time you hit the road on day two, things changed. You’re approaching the Donner Pass in the middle of a snowstorm. Suddenly it occurs to you that you have no tire chains. It’s going to be a rough ride.
Driving a truck during the winter definitely has its challenges. Simply put, everything is harder during the winter. It is harder to accelerate, brake, and make your turns. It’s harder to cover your cargo with truck tarps. It is harder to stay warm. It’s even harder to maintain a certain level of safety. And yet seasoned truckers know that being proactive during the months leading up to winter can be a big help.
Getting your hands on a good set of tire chains is part of being proactive. Don’t wait until you’re faced with that first heavy snowstorm at the Donner Pass to figure out you don’t have chains on board. And by all means, don’t depend on chain banks. You’re not getting paid when the wheels aren’t moving. If you are having to wait for chains because a chain bank is empty, you’re losing money.
Snow Comes without Warning
Seasoned truckers also know that mountain snowstorms often come without warning. You may have a few days’ notice of a storm forecasters say will travel across the plains states. But there are times when ferocious mountain storms rear up in a matter of hours. A driver may leave a shipping yard fully expecting to have manageable weather all the way to his destination, only to find himself staring down old man winter at the base of a mountain.
How quickly can debilitating snowstorms blowup? Ask some of the truckers who attempted to pass through the Bow Valley section of the Trans-Canada Highway during the first few days of October. Nearly 2 feet of snow fell over a two-day span, stranding up to 300 motorists for 15 hours. The whole highway was shut down due to car accidents and jackknifed tractor trailers.
Any trucker who lost control of his or her vehicle lost both the time it took to recover the truck and the time spent waiting for the road to reopen. Tire chains obviously wouldn’t have stopped officials from closing the road, but they probably would have prevented some of those tractor-trailers from jackknifing and ending up in a ditch.
Know State Chain Laws
The fact is that there are some regions of the U.S. truckers shouldn’t even think about traveling through without chains on board. A good set of tire chains could mean the difference between keeping your truck on the road and having to call for a tow to pull you out of a ditch. Considering how much money it costs to remain idle, investing in tire chains seems completely reasonable.
We also encourage truck drivers to know the chain laws in the various states they travel through. For example, Colorado mandates chains be carried on trucks traveling along I-70 between mile markers 133 and 259. Drivers can be charged upwards of $500 for not using chains when required.
Tire chains can be a hassle to deploy. However, they serve a vital purpose that’s pretty tough to ignore that first time you realize you should have used chains but didn’t. Don’t be caught in a position of not having tire chains. Get your chains now, before that first big snowstorm leaves you stranded.