When you drive in winter conditions, you may see signs telling you to carry chains or traction tires and when you are required to use them. In some areas, lighted message signs also will advise you about chaining up. To view the signs or learn more about Oregon's chain law and the vehicles that may be exempt from it go to Oregon's Chain Law.
In typical winter conditions, vehicles rated at 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight (GVW) or less and not towing or being towed are allowed to use traction tires in place of chains. However in very bad winter road conditions all vehicles may be required to use chains regardless of the type of vehicle or type of tire being used. This is known as a conditional road closure. A conditional road closure may occur on any of Oregon's highways and are frequent in the winter on Interstate 5 through the Siskiyou Pass south of Ashland.
"Traction Tires" are studded tires, retractable studded tires, or other tires that meet the tire industry definition as suitable for use in severe snow conditions.
- Tires designated by the tire industry as suitable for use in severe snow conditions are marked with a mountain/snowflake emblem on the sidewall like this:
For information on these tires, contact your tire dealer or the Northwest Tires Dealers Association.
- "Retractable studded tires" are tires with embedded studs that retract to at or below the wear bar of the tire and project not less than .04 inch beyond the tread surface of the tire when extended. The tire industry expects to test market retractable studded tires in 2008 followed by a broader product rollout in 2009.
- "Studded tires" are tires with studs that are made of a rigid material that wears at the same rate as the tire tread. The studs must extend at least .04 inch but not more than .06 inch beyond the tread surface. Studded tires are only legal for use in Oregon from November 1 through March 31.
When allowed in place of chains, traction tires are to be placed as shown on Minimum Chain Requirements.