UTAH (ABC4) — Driving in winter weather can be extremely challenging. As snow continues to fall throughout the winter season, drivers will notice the Utah Department of Transportation declaring a specific area to be under the Traction Law from time to time. But what does that really mean?
Utah Administrative Rule R920-6 dictates that the Unified Police Department and UDOT have the power to make the decision on whether the Traction Law should go into effect after evaluating the winter road conditions.
Under this rule, vehicles in the affected area must have traction devices, which can be snow-worthy tires or chains around the tires. Drivers can find out whether an area is under Traction Law by checking road signs, messages boards, the UDOT app and social media.
All-season tires, UDOT said, are not sufficient when traction restrictions are in place. For a 2-wheel drive vehicle, it must have 3PMSF-rated tires on all wheels or chains on all drive wheels. For 4-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles, they must have 3PMSF or M+S-rated tires or chains on all wheels.
If anyone plans on renting a vehicle, UDOT said to ask the rental company if the car is an all-wheel or four-wheel drive and that it has snow-worthy tires.
It is important to note that the requirement of traction devices can only be implemented based on current road conditions and not predicted ones. This means that officials at UDOT are not allowed to declare the Traction Law ahead of time even when the weather forecast predicts there will be heavy snowfall later in the day.
The reason for this rule is that the chains installed on tires for snowy conditions may damage dry roads.
As a precaution, UDOT urges drivers to make sure they have warm clothes, a phone charger and extra food and water in their vehicles as well as a full tank of gas. This is to prepare for traffic delays caused by winter road conditions.
For more tips on driving in Utah during the winter, check out UDOT’s website.