SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Drivers of most passenger cars and light-duty trucks will be required to have certified snow tires with the three-peak mountain snowflake logo or an acceptable traction device, such as chains, during weather restrictions on Utah roads.
The new UDOT rule went into effect on Sept. 1. This week’s storm probably isn’t strong enough to cause weather-related road restrictions in Utah canyons, but when the time comes, drivers will need to be aware of the change.
The change does not affect vehicles with four-wheel or all-wheel drive, but applies to all two-wheel drive vehicles under 12,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight.
“It’s a certification that the state has recently required, but it’s been out in the tire industry for a number of years,” said Keith Brown, who works at Tire World in Salt Lake City. “It still doesn’t match a full-on winter tire in compounding and such, but it does give you a substantially increased handling and better control in bad weather than a standard all-season.”
The logo means the tire was tested and certified to drive on roads where you normally see 4×4 and chain restrictions. Those tires have different tread patterns, which are designed to help drivers stay in better control in snow and rain.
In the past, two-wheel-drive vehicles could get away with snow tires that have a mud & snow (M+S or M/S) rating in the canyons during severe winter weather.
Those tires are still good for four-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles, RVs, buses and semitrailers, but the mountain/snowflake tire, or 3PMSF tire, is now required for two-wheel-drive vehicles on highways during severe winter weather restrictions.
UDOT officials said chains are also acceptable as a traction device when required by road conditions.
A map of Utah roads that could be impacted by weather restrictions is included below.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story based on information from the Utah Department of Transportation's website indicated that violators could be punished with a Class B misdemeanor resulting in a $1,000 fine and/or six months in jail. UDOT has since clarified that the penalty is an infraction.