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Chain up for the slippery slopes: when to and when not to use chains

California Highway Patrol shares tips on when to chain up your tires in the mountain communities
Posted at 5:34 PM, Jan 11, 2024
  • Video shows Officer DC Williams with California Highway Patrol in Fort Tejon sharing when to and when not to use chains on your vehicle.
  • With icy roads freezing up the mountain communities, using chains correctly can help prevent accidents


As more winter weather moves into our mountain communities, driving can become dangerous for those not prepared. And with the icy roads, knowing how and when to use chains can be life-saving.

The question for many people when conditions get hazardous– when is it time to "chain up"?

I spoke to California Highway Patrol Officer DC Williams in Fort Tejon, who said, “The only time you use chains is definitely in the mountain communities. You never use chains on the freeways, on the I-5, on the 99, 210, all of those roadways– you do not use chains.”

Chains are mandatory when road conditions get dicey during the winter months in the mountains above Frazier Park.

Williams said using chains is helpful, but does not make your car invincible to the elements.

Drive too fast, and the chains can break.

CHP recommends following the instructions before heading to the snow.

“Unfortunately, we can’t assist you in putting those chains on,” said Williams. “Basically what we will do is, we’re free to look at those instructions on how to put those chains on or you can talk to people that are already there that have chains on their cars.”

Many websites recommend using chains in icy and snowy conditions, but on bare pavement can cause substantial damage to your vehicle.

When in doubt, look for the signs. As we head into another holiday weekend, the CHP says it plans to lock down on chain control.

Williams said, “At times we do chain control because there’s a lot of ice on the roadway so look for those signs that say chain check or chain control. Because if we are looking for chains, making sure you have them with you and you don’t have them, unfortunately, you’re gonna be turned around.”

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