Driving in the mountains with snow chains: 14 dos and don’ts to keep you safe


Snow chains are a crucial bit of car kit if you plan to drive in the mountains on icy and snowy roads. They provide maximum traction when driving through snow and ice, however it is important to use them properly and safely. Paul Lamarra passes on the dos and don’t of driving with snow chains.

Snow chains: The dos

Buy the most expensive chains you can afford or consider hiring them if it is likely to be a one-off trip. Snow chains come in all shapes and sizes, from fabric socks to spikes, and can cost anything from £50 to £300, although it is possible to hire them for around £45 per week plus postage costs. The chains come in pairs and are fitted to the drive wheels.

Practise fitting chains before your trip.

Check the weather and road reports before setting off for the day.

Wear a high-visibility jacket or vest.

Pull away slowly in a higher gear.

Pull off the road into an aire de chainage (layby) when fitting chains.

Turn off traction control or anti-skid mode.

Check regularly for damage and tension while chains are fitted.

Consider fitting chains to all four wheels, especially if you have a four-wheel- drive or rear-wheel drive vehicle.

Snow chains: The do nots

Use chains on snow-free roads, even if this means removing them frequently.

Use a snow sock for long journeys.

Use broken or damaged chains.

Drive at more than 30mph.

Accelerate quickly, brake hard or fail to slow down going into a bend.

Found this useful? Check out Driving in the French Alps: 6 tips for extreme winter and snowy conditions

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