Commercial Vehicle - Tire and Chain Requirements

Commercial drivers who travel outside the Greater Vancouver and Greater Victoria areas in the winter are required to carry chains, or be equipped with other traction devices, and comply with all signage. Good practice is to keep chains on board at all times, and know how to install them.

Rapid changes in elevation and weather can make B.C. highway conditions unpredictable during winter months. You may start a trip in sunshine but face stretches of slush, ice, heavy snowfall or compact snow along the way.

It is the responsibility for the operator of a vehicle to understand the conditions on the roads they travel and equip their vehicle for those conditions.

Drivers must obey winter tire and chain signs throughout the province from October 1 to March 31. For select highways, including mountain passes and rural routes in high snowfall areas, the date is extended until April 30 to account for early-spring snowfall.

The truck pictured with a single rear drive axle on the
regulatory signs represents ALL commercial vehicles.

Commercial trucks weighing between 5,000 kg to 27,000 kg GVW primarily use chains for additional traction, but may use tires with the 3-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol or the M+S symbol if available for their vehicle class.

Commercial vehicles 27,000 kg GVW and greater, such as tractor trailers, are required to carry chains or be equipped with other traction devices on most major highways.

Chains, Traction Devices and Additional Safety

Commercial vehicles may use alternative traction devices. Only use these devices if they have been tested for performance in winter conditions.


It is recommended that commercial vehicles use steel link chains as they have been proven to provide superior traction and prevent lateral slippage. Cable style chains are permitted if used in conjunction with steel link chains which have been installed on the outside of a drive axle. Cable chains do not provide adequate traction on roads with banked curves on their own and can actually cause a vehicle to slide.

Automatic Tire Chains

Automatic tire chains are activated and retracted from the safety of the driver's seat, eliminating the need for manual installation of chains.

Studded Tires

These tires may only be used on BC highways from October 1 to April 30 and the studs should not protrude more than 2 mm from the tread or traction surface of the tire. Use of studded tires outside of this period may result in a fine.

If you are using studded tires, you should have them on all four wheels for even traction. If using studded tires on the front of the vehicle they MUST be used on the back of the vehicle as well.

Wheel Sander

On demand, a wheel sander system delivers grit in front of the tire to increase traction.

Textile Tire Cover

A textile sheath placed over a tire improves traction in the same manner as steel tire chains. They work best on snow and ice. When used on asphalt they will quickly degrade.