Chains / Winter Tires Required Signs

The sign at the bottom of the road reads "all vehicles must carry chains and use winter tread tires beyond this point". A little further up the road, another sign reads "when the light is flashing all vehicles must use chains". Although the instructions are clear, I suspect a lot of users are non-compliant, including me. I drive a 2009 Nissan Rogue AWD equipped with winter tires and do not carry chains. On the very few occasions when the light has been flashing, I have ignored it and have never had any trouble getting up the road. Furthermore, I have never had any problems getting back down. I have heard that the RCMP may impose significant fines for non-compliance but also that they will allow vehicles equipped like mine to proceed. I'm wondering if you could comment on this and clarify it for me.

Submitted by E-mail

Here are photos of the signs taken this week:

severe conditions sign


carry chains sign


must use chains sign


I'm sure that we all appreciate that you took the time to follow up with these photos.

This leaves no doubt that drivers using this section of the highway must use winter tires and must carry tire chains. When the yellow lights on the third sign are flashing it is an offence to pass it without having chains installed on the drive wheels regardless what type of vehicle you are driving, commercial or private.

The second and third signs are used according to the conditions and should be controlled under authority of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastucture. When not needed, the center sign folds closed to hide the face and the lights on the third sign are not turned on.

Regulatory and warning signs are authorized under Division 23 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations. If the sign type is not specified in the schedules they are still signs that must be obeyed if they are caused to be put up by the Ministry and conform to the standards, which these signs do. Black on yellow (sign 1) is an advisory sign and black on white (signs 2 and 3) are regulatory.

Submitted by E-mail

My original intent was to try to determine if there was some flexibility for four wheel drive, or all wheel drive vehicles, equipped with good winter tires.  I guess not!  However, I do find it rather surprising that the requirements for the Mount Washington road are more onerous than other areas of the province such as Rogers Pass or the Coquihalla.  Both of those areas can have winter conditions that are at least as difficult as the MW road, maybe more difficult, and snow and ice clearance on the MW road is probably more rapid thanks to the short distance and the good work of Emcon Services.


I appreciate your response, but it would require mentioning in the sign text. If there is no stated exemption then the sign must apply to all vehicles.

Are You Certain?

I've never been there and I can't use Google Street View to see what the signs say, but in my experience, the sign says use good winter tread tires OR carry chains. There is a sample of the road sign with the article about using winter tires elsewhere on this site. If this is not the case, send me a picture of the sign and I'll post it here.

The ticket for disobeying is $121 and police may turn you back to get the equipment that is needed. No doubt this would cause problems with your planned ski trip.

Another thing that you might want to consider is liability should you cause a crash where not following the requirements caused or contributed to the incident. This would be especially important if you were not carrying sufficient insurance coverage and had to pay for the difference between what your insurance provides and the court awards.

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