Truck & Bus Snow Chains - All You Need to Know
As the winter weather starts to draw in across most of the UK, the risks associated with snow and ice become a high priority for many logistics, passenger and transport businesses. As well as ensuring the safety of your drivers, passengers and general public, the disruptive effect of snow and ice on your commercial business can be dangerously significant.
Whilst the UK has a reputation for poor weather, heavy snowfall is not something that the country is associated with. Having said that, recent memories of “snow-bomb weather warnings” and 2019’s “Beast from the East” snowstorm, demonstrate that dangerous snow and ice conditions are not unheard of across the UK. In fact, many parts of the North of England and Scotland, as well as many higher grounds around the country, are regularly seen as high-risk areas for snowfall over the winter months.
What are Snow Chains?
As the name suggests, snow chains are designed to fit around a vehicle’s tyres to offer greater levels of grip on snow. This can make snow chains highly effective at keeping your vehicles moving through challenging conditions. Snow chains are securely fastened over the existing wheels and ‘dig’ into the snow, offering grip where the tyre was previously unable to grip. Providing extra traction through challenging conditions, having snow chains available to your drivers can keep your vehicles going and reduce the risk of becoming stranded in extreme weather conditions.
Are snow chains legal?
The use of snow chains is legal in the UK, as long as they are not used in a manner that will damage the road surface. This means snow chains must only be used on snow-covered roads and need to be removed when driving on a tarmac surface. The use of snow chains is legal across most of continental Europe, in fact, they’re mandatory to have in your vehicle across many areas of Germany, Austria, France and Switzerland. If your vehicles are travelling abroad, it is important to know that local signs indicate when they are legally required, and this includes all mountain roads/ski resorts. Outside of these compulsory areas, any driver found to cause a hold up or accident because of not being equipped for the weather conditions can be subject to a heavy fine. In addition, recent legislattion states that where snow chains are required, they must conform to the EN-1662-1 standard.
Do I need snow chains in the UK?
While they are not mandatory as they are in many other European countries, the disruption and safety risks associated with being stranded in heavy snow make snow chains an essential safety device for all vehicles through winter months in the UK. If you are safety conscious enough to consider winter tyres for your vehicles, the added security of snow chains is a must.
Should I put snow chains on all my wheels?
The short answer is no, however for optimal traction snow chains should always be fitted to the drive wheels of your vehicle to keep you moving in challenging conditions. Fitting snow chains to further wheels of your vehicle will give you extra traction and manoeuvrability in heavy snow, but to keep your fleet moving the key thing to remember is to fit the snow chains to the drive wheels.
Do I need to drive differently with snow chains?
Snow chains should only be used in extreme snow conditions where it’s unlikely that you’ll need or want to travel at excessive speeds. In most situations it is recommended that you do not exceed 30mph when using snow chains but travelling at a safe speed will often mean this could be a lot lower than 30mph.
It is also worth considering that braking distances will be significantly affected by snow chains. Whilst braking distances in snow can be to 5x longer than in wet conditions, braking distances on areas of the road where snow cover is significantly less are likely to be longer than with snow chains as the chain itself can often obstruct the braking surface of the tyre and the road.
In summary, safety and caution should always be taken when driving in any challenging winter conditions, the addition of snow chains can get your vehicles moving, but it is important to always drive within the confines of the external conditions.
What else should I consider before buying snow chains?
It is vitally important to find a snow chain in the correct, matching size for your tyres. Ill-fitting chains can have dangerous effects on your vehicle and cause structural damage, as well as not providing you the full safety benefits of snow chains in the conditions you need them the most. It is also important to ensure that you have has adequate space to fit the chains. If there is little room between the tyre and the rim, you will struggle to fit a big chain.
It is also essential that you have a strong maintenance routine for your snow chains. When you have finished using your snow chains, it is important that you wash them in warm soapy water asap, ideally with a firm Vikan brush to remove any salt residue that can accelerate corrosion. Finally, having hung the chains to dry you should spray them with WD40 to stop/reduce corrosion.
To find the right cleaning brushes for your snow chains why not explore our range of Vikan cleaning brushes. The Vikan Transport Vehicle Wash Brush & Pole Range is expertly designed to help you clean the interior and exterior of any type of vehicle effectively and efficiently. Suitable for all commercial vehicles, including lorries, vans, trucks, buses, and minibuses. Vikan transport brushes are all ergonomically designed and manufactured to the highest standards of quality to deliver effective cleaning that saves you effort and time, while delivering a professional finish.
In summary, snow chains can significantly help you to remain safe and moving through the winter months, limiting the risk of stranded vehicles, and keeping your business moving through challenging conditions. A legal requirement through many parts of Europe, having snow chains available to your drivers is an important consideration for anyone travelling throughout winter months, especially amongst high ground, rural areas where sudden heavy snow fall can catch drivers by surprise.
To find the correct size snow chains for your vehicle visit our Andean range of commercial snow chains, specially designed for HGV trucks, buses and coaches. Manufactured to comply with new EN-1662-1 European standard, and TÜV approved for use in all European countries, these snow chains can be used across European countries where they are a legal necessity. Designed to be easy-to-fit and quick-to-remove, our expert snow chains are the perfect safety solution to keep you moving over the winter months ahead.