New chain law provisions in effect this winter on South Pass
by Wyoming Department of Transportation
January 8, 2010
A new provision of Wyoming’s chain law will give the Wyoming Department of Transportation and Wyoming Highway Patrol an additional option to keep traffic moving safely during severe conditions this winter.
The 2009 Legislature approved the new provision that allows restriction of travel on specific highway sections to vehicles equipped with tire chains, or all-wheel-drive vehicles equipped with adequate mud and snow or all-weather rated tires. The new law should help travelers safely navigate and reduce the number of closures on Wyoming 28 over South Pass.
When the restriction is in effect, commercial vehicles must have tire chains on at least two drive wheels at opposite ends of the same drive axle in order to proceed. The restriction can be enforced on specific sections of highway when travel there is sufficiently hazardous due to snow, ice or other conditions. When it is in effect, inspection areas may be set up to ensure vehicles have properly installed chains or are all-wheel drive with appropriate tires before being allowed to proceed onto the affected highway section.
"This new option is intended to give us a way we can keep highways open for traffic that is properly prepared and equipped for the conditions, while preventing improperly equipped vehicles from proceeding and potentially ending up in situations that would require an unnecessary closure of the highway," said Maj. John Butler, the Wyoming Highway Patrol’s field operations commander.
Drivers will be alerted to the travel restrictions ahead by electronic message signs where available, static signs, highway advisory radio and WYDOT’s 511 travel information system available by dialing 511 or going to www.wyoroad.info. Travelers also can sign up to be notified by e-mail or text messages through the new 511 Notify system.
Signs also will alert drivers they have reached the end of the restricted travel area and can remove their chains. Drivers are cautioned not to stop in the driving lane, creating an unwarranted hazard to themselves and other motorists. WYDOT and Patrol will coordinate efforts to provide a safety zone for installation and removal of chains.
The new law includes a penalty of up to a $250 fine for ignoring the travel restriction. A driver who ignores the restriction and causes the closure in one or more directions of a highway can be fined up to $750.
When conditions are less severe, WYDOT and WHP still have the option of invoking the previously available travel restriction that requires vehicles to be equipped with tire chains, or adequate snow tires or all-wheel-drive in order to proceed.