Is It Legal to Use Snow Chains on Your Tires in Michigan?
It's the most wonderful time of the year...or is it?
Mother nature sure has a funny way of showing her holiday spirit. With the Winter season only just having begun on December 21, of course, it only makes sense that a massive Winter storm is about to hit the Midwest right before the holidays.
Although West Michigan is not expected to see as much snow as places like the Upper Peninsula-- which is forecasted to receive up to 52 inches of snow in some parts-- wintry conditions will definitely make travel treacherous in the coming days.
It's going to be a long Winter!
When it comes to sketchy road conditions, how does one travel safely from point A to point B? Snow chains on your tires are commonplace in areas that see outrageous snowfalls (like the U.P.) but are we "trolls" allowed to use them in the Lower Peninsula?
Michigan Vehicle Code
The short answer is: yes. Snow chains are allowed in Michigan. It is extremely important to note, however, that the chains may not come in contact with the road surface.
According to the Michigan Vehicle Code section 257.710:
[a] person shall not operate on a public highway of this state a vehicle or special mobile equipment which has metal or plastic track or a tire which is equipped with metal that comes in contact with the surface of the road or which has a partial contact of metal or plastic with the surface of the road.
However, the exception to this rule is, "...when required for safety because of snow, ice, or other condition tending to cause a vehicle to skid."
So, Are Snow Chains Legal?
Yes, chains on your tires are legal, but only in case of emergency and only so long as there is enough snow to ensure the chains don't come in contact with the roadway so as to prevent damage to the roads.
Try Snow Tires, Instead!
Many Michiganders recommend investing in a good pair of snow tires instead. After this year's Thanksgiving Winter storm I'm starting to think they might be onto something. Snow tires come highly recommended by those who live in cold, snowy climates. One Michigan Reddit user says,
I've lived in Michigan all my life and drive a lot for my job. Everyone has told me that all I need is all season tires. Then I just had enough. I finally caved and got winter tires 4 years ago and wondered why I never had them before. They make a difference and grip better than all seasons. They gives you better traction, but still drive cautiously.
If you absolutely must be on the roads this weekend, be sure to keep an eye on the forecast and road conditions-- and drive safe! Using GPS snowplow tracking tools to check the status of road conditions is also a good idea.