Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Chains of Shame

Happy New Year

The trip to L.A. from Bothell WA was not with out its stressful moments, but not because of weather.  It took us 6 hours from Eugene to just past Sacramento where we spent the night. And on to L.A. the next day...
Siskiyou pass

Mt. Shasta co. Plateau 

 We drove the first day to Eugene and stayed the night in my daughters apartment. Day two we got ready for foul weather at the Siskiyou and Mt.Shasta passes. I timed the driving so that we would reach the summit at noon.  There were mandatory snow chain signs and radio broadcasts. I was just hoping we would not get turned back since I didn't bring any. There were so many people stopped at the base of the pass putting on chains on the side of the road. Of course all the Semis have to have them on. We were just hoping that all wheel drive vehicles would be allowed to pass.  I was getting worried when I saw 4x4 pick up trucks putting on chains and a couple of Jeeps had them on.  There was even a British Morris Minor being a good citizen.  Jim couldn't resist commenting on the guy with his pants falling down his buttocks putting chains on his Pontiac AZTEK.  The best show was the Volvo P90 with some plastic tire contraption which wouldn't stay on the tires at any speed. The young hipster had to get out to relocate his lost "Volvo Approved Tire Traction Device"  All eyes were on his expression of "Chain Shame", and we were just crossing our fingers it wouldn't be our next expression.
2004 Land Rover Freelander Owners Manual

We all felt like a bunch of suckers after seeing there were no chain check stations set up and the weather and roads were just fine. When I got back home I looked up the ODOT Laws and found out that I only need to carry chains with me if the conditions state: "Conditional Road Closure" The Washington Law is similar.  I will be purchasing a pair of "Land Rover Approved" chains for my car, so that I can carry them with me and probably never put them on.

Excerpt from ODOT Website:


In typical winter conditions, the following vehicles are completely or partially exempt from the chain law. However, in very bad winter road conditions all vehicles may be required to use chains regardless of the type of vehicle or type of tire being used (this is known as a conditional road closure). A conditional road closure may occur on any of Oregon's highways and are frequent in the winter on Interstate 5 through the Siskiyou Pass south of Ashland:
  1. Police vehicles, and fire vehicles, ambulances, and Department of Transportation highway maintenance vehicles when performing their duties.

  2. A four-wheel or all-wheel drive passenger vehicle if all of the following statements are true:

    a) It has an unloaded weight of 6,500 pounds or less;
    b) It is operated to provide power to both the front and rear wheels;
    c) It is carrying chains;
    d) It has mud and snow, all-weather radial, or traction tires on all of its wheels;
    e) It is not towing another vehicle;
    f) It is not being operated in a manner or under conditions that cause the vehicle to lose traction.

  3. Utility company vehicles, such as water, power, or heat, when providing emergency response services.

  4. A bus that is over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight (GVW) due only to accessibility modifications for disabled persons is exempt from the chain requirements for vehicles rated over 10,000 GVW unless it is towing or being towed.

  5. Motorcycles are exempt from the requirement to carry chains or traction tires and may not travel when chains or traction tires are required on all or certain vehicles.


Drivers who disobey the signs requiring chains or traction tires are subject to a class C traffic infraction.


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