Overview of the New Wheel Chain Regulations for B.C. Truck Drivers

Last November, the provincial government introduced more extensive regulations around the mandatory use of chains and other traction devices by commercial vehicles.

These rules came into effect October 1 and truck drivers who fail to comply with them will face stiff fines. In this article, we provide a comprehensive overview of the new regulations.

The new rules around wheel chains

Previously, only trucks that weighed more than 27,000 kg were required to carry and use traction devices, and only one wheel needed to be chained during mandatory chain ups. Regulations around traction devices are now more stringent and extend to less heavy vehicles.

  • Commercial vehicles weighing over 11,794 (such as semi-trucks) must carry steel chains on most major highways from October 1 to April 30. During mandatory chain ups, between two to six tires need to be chained up, depending on the vehicle configuration. The installation directions for different vehicle configurations are presented in this infographic from the provincial government.
  • Commercial vehicles weighing between 5,000 kg and 11,794 kg (such as buses or 5-ton trucks) that aren’t equipped with appropriate winter tires must carry chains or other acceptable traction devices (cable chains, automatic tire chains, wheel sanders and textile tire covers) from October 1 to April 30. During mandatory chain ups, if the vehicle doesn’t have winter tires, two of the wheels need to be equipped with traction devices. Refer to the infographic to learn where the traction devices need to be placed.

Fines for noncompliance

Previously, truck drivers faced a fine of $121 for not carrying or installing chains when the law required it. As of October 1, fines of $196 are imposed for not carrying chains or other traction devices during the period of October 1 to April 30. And fines of $598 are imposed for driving without chains or other traction devices during mandatory chain ups.

The reason for the new regulations

The majority of highway closures during winter are caused by commercial trucks. For example, during the winter of 2017 to 2018, they caused 33 of the 35 closures on the Coquihalla Highway. In most cases the truck either didn’t have chains on or the chains were poorly installed, and this was one of the key factors in the incident. Following the introduction of the new regulations, this figure dropped to nine. Now that the regulations are being enforced, we can reasonably expect to see even fewer such accidents.

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