Q&A - Tire Chains for 55 Passenger Bus

commercial vehicle chain signI am trying to get confirmation on the law regarding the need for tire chains on a commercial 55 passenger bus for winter driving.

The wording of the law is ambiguous. It states that school buses must carry chains and Commercial transport trucks must carry chains when driving on the highway, but that passenger vehicles are not required to carry chains.

I am being given conflicting information at work as to whether or I need to be carrying chains during winter months, and I am seeking clarification so as to be certain I am in compliance with the law.

Rules for Tire Chains

The winter traction rule is in the Motor Vehicle Act:

Winter tires and traction devices

208 (1) For the purpose of this section, "winter tire" means a tire that meets the standards and specifications prescribed for winter tires.

(2) The minister responsible for the administration of the Transportation Act may, by public notice or by placing signs, prohibit any vehicle or a class of vehicles from being driven or operated on a highway, unless the vehicle is equipped with chains, winter tires or traction devices, or a combination of these, that the minister responsible for the administration of the Transportation Act considers adequate in view of prevailing road conditions.

(3) A public notice or sign under subsection (2) may provide differently in relation to specified dates, prevailing weather conditions or any other criteria the minister responsible for the administration of the Transportation Act considers necessary or advisable.

(4) A person who drives or operates a vehicle in contravention of a prohibition made under subsection (2) commits an offence.

The requirement for a bus to carry chains is found in the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations:

Chains on light commercial motor vehicles

7.163 (1) In this section:

"minister" means the minister referred to in section 208 (2) of the Act;

"sign requiring the use of chains" means a sign, placed by the minister under section 208 of the Act, that prohibits a vehicle from being driven or operated on a highway unless the vehicle is equipped with chains.

(2) This section applies to the following types of commercial motor vehicles:

(a) a commercial motor vehicle that has a licensed gross vehicle weight less than 11 794 kg;

(b) a bus;

(c) a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

(3) Subject to subsection (4), if the minister places a sign requiring the use of chains, a person who drives or operates a motor vehicle referred to in subsection (2) may comply with the sign by equipping the motor vehicle with a traction device, in accordance with subsection (6), instead of chains.

(4) Subsection (3) does not apply if the minister specifies otherwise in a public notice or sign placed under section 208 of the Act.

As an aside, a 4 wheel drive pickup truck would also be required to carry chains under this rule.

Regulatory Signs for Tire Chains

Currently, the notice most will see is this sign:

No Bus on the Sign

It does not show a bus, but the people at CVSE (and 7.163 above) tell me that your bus is considered to be the same as the commercial vehicles on the right half of the sign.

No Tire Chains, No Go

What is really important to you is what CVSE said about enforcement. Regardless of the fact that the current law seems somewhat ambiguous, if you drive up to a chain up notice and don't have chains you will be invited to wait or turn around by police or CVSE if present.

Legal Liability

I'm not a lawyer, but your company may wish to obtain legal counsel on the matter. If you drove by and did not comply and something happened, I would not be surprised if you were leaving yourself open to liability as well.

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