Snow Tire Laws in Massachusetts

••• snow image by Aleksandr Himcenko from

When the winter season arrives, vehicle owners across New England start considering when and where to apply snow tires. Four-wheel drive and front-wheel drive operators should replace all four tires, while two-wheel rear-drive vehicles can get by with just replacing the two on the drive train. These actions are not mandated by law but are the result of good mechanical common sense and the desire to operate a safe vehicle in the winter time.

Safe Winter Driving

Currently, Massachusetts has no current laws or regulations requiring the use of snow tires or chains for automobiles. However local laws may require the use of either snow tires or chains if conditions warrant. As a result most residents of the Bay State choose to place snow tires on their vehicles for the winter season.

Since nearly 70 percent of winter deaths occur in automobiles, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has issued preparation and safety tips to help insure safe winter driving during a snow storm. Tips include traveling during daylight hours with at least one other passenger, always carry an emergency kit in case you are stranded, slow down, yield to snowplows, use snow tires and keep your gas tank at least half full.

In case your car is stranded in deep snow, you are advised to stay in the car, turn off the engine, use emergency lights, put out a red flag or flare and run the engine and heater for 10 minutes every hour to keep warm.

Studded Snow Tires

Studded snow tires have long generated some controversy among lawmakers and motorists because their use can increase wear and tear on state roads and necessitate more repair work during the summer months. However, in Massachusetts, studded snow tires are allowed from Nov. 2 to April 30. The fine for violating this law is $50. Studded tires can be applied to just the rear or placed on all four tires.


In Massachusetts, snow chains are not illegal during snow storms, nor are they required. The one exception are triple-axle trucks, which must install one pair on an opposite set of wheels during snow storms.


In the state of Massachusetts, it is not illegal to pass a moving snowplow. However, the Department of Transportation recommends that motorists refrain from this activity and instead follow behind the plow.

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