When winter storms significantly impact highway travel in Wyoming, the state's chain law will go into effect.
Wyoming's chain law is two-tiered. What is called "Level 1" is declared when conditions are rated as "hazardous." Travel is restricted to vehicles equipped with tire chains, or to vehicles with adequate snow tires, or to all-wheel-drive vehicles.
When conditions deteriorate to an "extremely hazardous" rating, Level 2 of the chain law is declared. Travel is then restricted to vehicles equipped with tire chains or all-wheel-drive vehicles equipped with adequate mud and snow or all-weather tires.
For commercial vehicles, Level 2 of the chain law requires chains be on at least two of the drive wheels, at opposite ends of the same drive axle.
Along I-80 in southern Wyoming, the chain law is most likely to be enacted for three specific high-elevation sections.
-- Three Sisters (mileposts 7 to 34, east and westbound) between Evanston and Bridger Valley. Specially designated chain installation and removal areas are located at both ends of the section.
-- Walcott Jct. (beginning at milepost 235, eastbound) east of Rawlins and Sinclair. Chain installation or removal may be accommodated at Walcott Jct. Interchange (exit 235) or other locations designated by WYDOT or Wyoming Highway Patrol (WHP).
-- Summit (beginning at milepost 318, eastbound) from the bottom of Telephone Canyon east of Laramie. Chain installation or removal may be accommodated at locations designated by WYDOT or WHP.
Drivers on I-80 who cannot meet the requirements of the chain law will be asked to turn around and return to the nearest community.
Another locale where the chain law is likely to be enacted during storms is the South Pass section of WYO 28 between Farson and Lander.
Highway Patrol troopers may make compliance checks when the chain law is in effect. A driver who violates the chain law and causes a highway closure can be fined $750; other chain law violations carry a $250 penalty.
"The chain law was enacted to improve traveler safety and to reduce the number of road closures resulting from vehicles becoming stuck on the roadway," WHP Administrator Col. John Butler said. "Our enforcement efforts are focused on those goals"
"State law does not specify any certain time of year when commercial vehicles must carry tire chains, but it's a good idea for them do so during the cold weather season," Butler added.