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Practice Key to Safely Chain Up

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Every winter High Cascades Maintenance Manager Dan Metz and his crew encounter drivers struggling to install chains on snowy roads. Metz launches into familiar song, “…practically perfect in every way,” as he exalts the value of regular practice.

ODOT recommends motorists practice putting on chains at home in fair weather conditions, when it is easier to read the instructions. The agency has produced a video, “Tips and Techniques for Cable Chain Installation and Removal” that is available on YouTube.

“People who think they can start learning how to use chains when they reach the snow are a danger to themselves and other drivers,” Metz said. “Drivers often wait too long to put on chains, blocking lanes and delaying traffic. Our snowplows need the room to work.”

ODOT’s winter maintenance goal is to maintain a safe driving surface. Rogue Valley maintenance crews shift their schedules to provide 24-hour coverage, keeping employees fresh and ready to respond to any storm, day or night. Road condition updates are available on ODOT’s travel information website, Tripcheck.Com or by calling 511.

The High Cascades Maintenance Crew manages three mountain highways — the upper section of the Crater Lake Highway (Oregon 62), the entire 24-mile stretch of the West Diamond Lake Highway (Oregon 230) and the upper section of the North Umpqua Highway (Oregon 138W).

“Snow is our business,” said Metz. “We’re ready for it and drivers should be, too.”

ODOT recommends motorists review the following tips on chaining up and driving with chains:

  • Check your vehicle operator’s manual for the right type and size of chains to use. Then follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
  • Ensure chains are the proper size. Don’t deflate tires to install chains.
  • Don’t wait until you lose control of your vehicle before chaining up.
  • Pull over to a safe and level area to mount or remove chains.
  • Carry a waterproof tarp or plastic sheet to help keep you dry.
  • Keep children and pets safe in your car to avoid distraction and injury.
  • Pull over in a safe place and retighten your tire chains after you have driven a short distance.
  • Pull over and stop immediately if any part of your chain fails or comes loose.
  • Don’t drive faster than 30 miles per hour when using chains. Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Avoid spinning or locking your wheels.
  • Remember, you can slide even with chains, so drive carefully and slowly.
« Back to the December 2012 edition