Chaining up in Canada
OOIDA members and Land Line readers have grown accustomed to the annual updates on chain laws in the lower 48 states in the U.S. Land Line also has received a number of requests for a Canadian chain advisory.
So we now provide you with a comprehensive roundup of chain- and studded tire-related laws in all 10 provinces and three territories and continue to update them as we do the U.S. laws. All attempts are made to ensure the information is spot on, but if the weather has taken a turn for the worse and you are in doubt at all, call ahead to provinces you will be running through.
No regulations requiring or prohibiting the use of tire chains or studded tires. However, if you choose to use them and damage the roadway, Alberta makes a point to let you know you could be cited for the damage.
Chains and studded tires are fine when needed. In fact, you can be fined for not having proper tires. The Ministry of Transportation will have signs posted: “Must carry tire chains, Oct.1-March 31.” Any vehicle found crossing that point without proper tires is subject to a fine. Truckers only need to carry, not install, chains at this point. However, when encountering a sign or flashing amber lights with a message that indicates vehicles over a certain posted gross vehicle weight must use chains, then the chains must be installed. Chains on a typical tractor-trailer combination must be on all four tires of the main drive axle. There is no chain requirement on the trailer.
Studded tires with studs up to 3.5 mm high are allowed from Oct. 1 to April 30. A limit of 175 studs per tire for vehicles that weigh more than 4,600 kg, 130 studs for those that weigh less.
No regulations require or prohibit the use of tire chains. However, much like the boilerplate language in many states in the U.S., you can use chains when needed “for safety.”
It is permissible to use tire chains and studded tires in cases of “exceptional weather conditions.” Studded snow tires are permissible at any time except from May 1 to Oct. 15.
Newfoundland and Labrador
According to provincial regulations, “a person shall not operate a motor vehicle on a highway when there is snow or ice on the surface of the highway unless” snow tires or tire chains are fitted on the drive axle.
Essentially, tire chains are allowed during icy or snow road conditions.
“It shall be permissible to use tire chains of reasonable proportions upon any vehicle when required for safety because of snow, ice or other conditions tending to cause a vehicle to slide or skid.”
Drivers can use tire chains in Nunavut as needed.
Ontario is a bit trickier when it comes to studded tires. To start, they are only permitted from Sept. 1 through May 31. In order to use studded tires, the driver must be a resident of Northern Ontario (north of Parry Sound and Nipissing districts), own a business in Northern Ontario, or have road authority having jurisdiction and control of a highway in Northern Ontario. Non-Ontario residents may use studded tires if the vehicle is in Ontario for no more than 30 days.
From there, Ontario has a list of regulations regarding size and placement of the studs. Essentially, studded tires are OK in Northern Ontario. A $1,000 fine can be given for using studded tires in Southern Ontario.
Prince Edward Island
Tire chains are permissible as long as they do not “injure” the highway.
Chains may only be used by emergency vehicles, farm tractors or any road vehicle used for snow removal or winter maintenance from Oct. 15 to May 1. Studded tires are acceptable only on passenger vehicles from Oct. 15 to May 1. There are no regulations that specifically mention heavy trucks and winter tires. Per a conversation with a representative from the Ministry of Transportation, chains and studs are prohibited on heavy trucks.
No regulations for winter tires. Studded tires and chains are permitted.
No regulations for winter tires. Studded tires and chains are permitted. LL