By Roy Broomfield
Steep mountain roads or raging blizzards can make can make driving a challenge. The traction provided by tire chains can make the difference between getting stuck or clawing through to your destination.
If your drivers find themselves in slick, icy, and/or snowy conditions that require chains, are they prepared? Would they know what to do? Perhaps it's time to assign tire chain training for the people in your fleet!
The Chilly Challenges of Tire Chains
One of the reasons that drivers are reluctant to install chains is because they are not easy to install. Each chain has to installed one at a time, and often when the outside weather conditions are at their worst.
The amount of time that it can take to install a full set of tire chain will mean that they are outside of their vehicle for a considerable amount of time. Leaving a nice warm vehicle to spend an hour (or potentially more) installing tire chains is not appealing.
Plus your drivers are usually next to a busy road with traffic buzzing by. And where they are exposed to other drivers who have poor visibility. Or worse, the other drivers may not have the common sense to’ve put on their own tire chains. It can feel very dangerous and tense there by the side of the road.
All of these lead to drivers convincing themselves to push on without tire chains, and get themselves into bad situations.
Learn to Be Faster than the North Wind
The best way to overcome the problem is to learn to install tire chains before drivers need to use them. If they can familiarize themselves with the process and practice it a little, your drivers will be literally twice as fast. Practice when it’s warm, and where it’s safe. Then when it’s literally freezing outside, they’ll save themselves 20 minutes on the side of wet, slushy road
Four-Wheel Drive Doesn’t Help with Braking
Light-duty vehicles with four-wheel drive (or all-wheel drive) may give your driver a false sense of security. All-wheel drive vehicles, even with advances in traction control, don’t brake any better on snow or ice than a normal vehicle. Four-wheel drive trucks, SUVs and crossover vehicles may accelerate better in slick conditions, but it absolutely will not help when it comes time to stop. The only thing that will help your vehicles stop in snow and ice are tire chains, snow tires, or studded tires.
Legal Requirements Around Tire Chains
Some states require that all vehicles carry chains during certain months of the year in the event road conditions deteriorate. Tire chains are best installed on drive tires, but can also be installed on other tires as needed. Some jurisdictions have minimum requirements on which tires and axles must have chains installed. Drivers, dispatchers and maintenance must check the requirements before drivers set out on their journey.
Provide Drivers with a Great Tire Chain Kit
Making sure your drivers have what they need for chaining up is critical to overcoming their resistance.
- Tire chains come in multiple sizes, so it is important that the chains they carry are the correct size for the vehicle.
- Putting on chains is wet, cold work. Give them some nimble, water-resistant gloves and maybe a rubber mat on which they can kneel. A reflective safety vest is also a must.
- Extra links, connectors, bands and assorted other parts will help in case something breaks.
- Reflective road triangles or some other marker helps other drivers steer around.
Tire Chain Training from PRO-TREAD
Tire chains will help your drivers maintain traction and control of their vehicle when conditions are at their worst. Having the knowledge and practical skill to install chains will ensure that your drivers will know what to do when they are required to use them.
PRO-TREAD has lessons on installing tire chains for both medium and heavy duty trucks, as well as a different one for light-duty trucks and cars. The tire chain training courses each cover the whole process and how drivers can protect themselves when chaining up.
The courses were produced in collaboration with Laclede Chains, who provided video for all different vehicle and chain types.