What You Need to Know About Stricter Chain-Up Rules

Suggested commercial vehicle chain-up configurations

We’ve introduced better chain-up regulations for commercial vehicles, which will provide more clarity for professional drivers this winter. That means safer roads, too.

The changes come in the wake of one of our worst winters for highway closures. Unprepared commercial trucks caused 41 highway closures because they were either poorly equipped or totally unequipped with chains. In some cases, this was due to the driver’s inability to install the chains properly. Loss of traction in winter conditions leads to collisions and commercial vehicles simply spinning out on hills and blocking all lanes until they can be towed.

The old regulations were not as thorough, requiring vehicles over 27,000 kilograms to carry and use chains or other traction devices, with only one wheel needing a traction device during winter conditions and mandatory chain-ups.

Professional drivers properly equipped were often delayed due to these closures.

We’re doing better than that now…

Changes to Chain up requirements in BC
Changes to Chain up requirements in BC

What’s New?

The new rules clearly spell out safe chain-up configurations for all commercial vehicles over 5,000 kilograms.

See the top of this blog post for the full visual guide to commercial vehicle chain configurations. But let us also break down the minimum requirements here:

STEEL CHAINS ONLY

CMV over 11,794 kg without trailer

  • Two outside drive tires must be chained for trucks with one, two, or three rear axles. If the truck has more than one rear drive axle, we recommend the chains be installed on the rear drive axle closest to the front (as shown in graphics) because the front will chew up the compact and create a rough surface for the subsequent tires. Depending on weight distribution, some drivers may prefer to put them on the drive axle(s) closest to the rear.

CMV over 11,794 kg with one trailer

  • Four drive tires must be chained for trucks with one, two, or three rear axles. All four chains can go on one drive axle, or distributed to the outside tires of two drive axles. If more than one rear drive axle, we recommend chains be installed on the rear axle(s) closest to the front.

CMV over 11,794 kg with multiple trailers

  • Six drive tires should be chained: all four tires of the first drive axle, and the two outside tires of the second drive axle.

CMV over 11,794 kg with super single tires without trailers

  • Both tires of the first drive axle should be chained.

CMV over 11,794 kg with super single tires with trailer(s)

  • Trucks with one drive axle must have both tires chained. Trucks with two or three drive axles must have all four tires on the first and second drive axles chained.

WINTER TIRES or TRACTION DEVICES [Vehicles equal or under 11,794 kg may use winter tires and/or acceptable traction devices (chains, cable chains, socks, wheel sanders or automatic chains)]

CMV equal or under 11,794 kg with one trailer

  • Two outside drive tires must have traction devices for trucks with one or two drive axles. If more than one axle, we recommend the drive axle closest to the front be equipped.

Buses, 4-wheel drive and CMV equal or under 11, 794 kg without trailer

  • Two outside rear tires must have winter tires or traction devices.
  • Motor coach buses travelling across BC’s mountain passes, regardless of LGVW (bigger and smaller than 11,794 kg) need either winter tires, or some sort of traction device such as: steel chains, cables, auto-socks etc.

Education, Fines and Enforcement

Now, we realize this is short notice for the trucking industry. That’s why CVSE officers will be educating commercial drivers over the coming months before implementing and enforcing stricter fines at a later date. We’re evaluating escalating fines for non-compliance; previously, not carrying chains or installing when required came with a set $121 fine.

Thank you to everyone in the commercial trucking industry who took part in last summer’s survey about the proposed changes. We gained some valuable insight, including:

  • Over 70 per cent of commercial drivers surveyed approved of enhancements to the quality of, and requirements for, traction devices.
  • Over 90 per cent said they are already compliant with the regulations.
  • Over 80 per cent said they have the tools and training in place to implement the proposed regulations.

Along with the stricter chain-up regulations, commercial vehicles are restricted from using the left lane northbound on the Coquihalla between Box Canyon and Zopkios. This is to prevent multiple spin-outs from closing the highway. In the event of a severe weather event, CVSE and traffic control will be directing commercial drivers to chain-up at the newly expanded Box Canyon Chain-up area.

Of course, carrying chains is useless unless you know how to install them. Please make sure you hit the road with the knowledge and ability to follow the new chain-up regulations.

Got a question? Ask us in the comments section below and we’ll be happy to help.

Page 1 of 65 comments on “What You Need to Know About Stricter Chain-Up Rules”

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    • Hello Mark – the minimum requirement for a B-train with a tri-drive tractor pulling two trailers is the same as the requirement for a B-train with double drive tractor. Thanks for your question!

      Reply
  1. Why the emphasis on the front drive axle?
    Power goes through the front drive axle to the rear axle. You put the interlock in to power the front drive axle

    Reply
    • Hi Sean. Just make sure the chains go on a drive axle, and are evenly spaced on each side of the truck. We recommend the configuration shown in the graphic because the front will chew up the compact and create a rough surface for the subsequent tires. Depending on weight distribution, however, some drivers may prefer to put them on the very back drive axles.

      Reply
  2. Why do you recommend the front drive tires be chained first?
    This is a mystery to me as the rear drive axle is the primary drive and gives the majority of the grip on the road.
    Also i would like to mention that the damage caused by chains having a failure or breaking on the first axle is entirely more damaging to the equipment and much more difficult for the driver to install and uninstall.
    Please respond as soon as possible.

    Reply
    • Hi Dennis. As long as the chains go on a drive axle, and are evenly spaced on each side of the truck, the configuration is acceptable. We recommend the configuration shown in the graphic because the front will chew up the compact and create a rough surface for the subsequent tires. Depending on weight distribution, however, some drivers may prefer to put them on the back drive axles.

      Reply
  3. Out of those 41 closures how many were caused by a super b unit? Also out of those 41 closures how many times was it poor maintenance? Why is a super b unit (63,500) not required to run 2 sets of triples? I drive these roads everyday for almost 40 years and this is mind boggling!!!!!!!

    Reply
    • Sorry, we don’t have hard statistics on vehicle configurations. With the requirements, we have attempted to match typical configuration complexity. Those noted here are minimum requirements.

      Reply
      • You failed to answer Bob Kitsul’s question on the statistic of how many of the 41 closures were due to poor maintenance.

        Reply
        • Hello Brian and sorry about that Bob!
          We closely monitor our contractors performance, can confirm that the contractor is meeting our specifications and have been very comfortable with the level of maintenance provided on this stretch of highway. The Coquihalla has a Class A classification, with a current maximum allowable accumulation of 4 cm for the first lane of a multi-lane highway, the second lane is allowed a maximum of 8cm and the third lane a maximum of 12cm . This is a consistent provincial standard requirement for this classification of highway. We are currently in the process of renewing our maintenance contracts in all of our 28 service areas across the province and under the new contracts; the Coquihalla highway will have an enhanced maintenance standard with a maximum allowable accumulation of 4cm on all lanes. We hope that this helps answer your questions. Please let us know if you have any further questions. Thanks.

          Reply
          • You still haven’t answered his question. All you managed to saying is that you have specifications, that are actually horrible I might add that your contractor meets. Good for him someone give him a round of applause. It’s still doesn’t address the question of how many of those incidents were caused due to bad road maintenance. Let’s take a look at your counterpart in the United States who will actually close the highway to clear the road. So could you please answer his question now.