Placerville Area Office

Winter Driving Tips & Snow Chain Requirements

With bad weather there are some general tips we can provide which can help you to get to your destination safely.

  • Be sure to slow down
  • Allow extra time to get where you are going. You can expect delays.
  • Leave extra space between you and the car ahead of you.
  • Gently apply your brakes to avoid skidding.

In Rain:

  • Make sure to drive with your headlights on.
  • Stay alert for vehicle hydroplaning.
  • Apply brakes more slowly, they may pull.

In Fog:

  • Drive with you headlight on low beams. (It is illegal to drive with your parking lights on.)
  • Watch for CHP pace vehicles to guide you through fog.
  • Avoid crossing traffic lanes.
  • Don't stop on highways except in emergencies.
  • Move away from stalled or disabled vehicles to a place of safety.
  • Consider postponing your trip until the fog clears.

In Snow:

  • Carry chains in snow conditions even if your vehicle has 4-wheel drive. It's the law.
  • Observe the speed limit in chain control area. 25 miles per hour.
  • Check your vehicle owner's manual for operating tips on your braking system.
  • Watch for paddle-shaped markers. They show the road's edge.
  • Studded tires may be used between November 1 and April 1 only.
  • Stay with your vehicle if you break down.


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Chain Requirements

"R" ratings on snowy roads indicate chain requirements for various conditions. The ratings are as follows:

  • R-1: Chains are required except for vehilce with snow tires. (Chains are required for any vehicle pulling a trailer.)
  • R-2: Chains are required except for 4-wheel drive vehicles with snow tires.
  • R-3: Chains are required for all vehicles.

Chain Installation Services:

Chain installers are not state employees. They are licensed workers required to display a permit on their jacket. Fees must be posted and a receipt given for payment. Chain installers are not permitted to sell chains.

Chaining Up:

  • Move out of the lanes of traffic.
  • Park off roadways, freeways and access ramps.
  • Park out of the path of snow removal equipment.
  • Install chains on your vehicle's drive tires.

Additional information regarding chain requirements in California can be found on the internet at

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