Tire chains – are they the best choice for rescue vehicles?

Written by Ulrik Andersson,

Some products are so functional and effective that there is little potential to improve them. The violin, for example, got its design by the Italian master violin-makers in the 17th century. Countless efforts have been made to challenge its basic construction in order to improve it, but in vain. The violin is so close to perfect that no one has come up with a fundamental improvement during the last 350 years.

Tire chains are not that old – they were patented in 1904, and ever since they have proven to be very effective for increasing traction.

It is said that the inventor, Mr. Harry D Weed, from Canastota, New York, in the USA, got the idea when he saw drivers wrapping ropes around the wheels to increase traction. He then figured out a device that was more durable and would work on both mud and snow, and the rest is history, but are they even close to perfect?

Flaws are possibilities for improvement

Even if conventional tire chains are a good example of simplicity and reliable function, there are flaws. Tire chains are sturdy, thus they’re excellent for heavy-duty work. For example in heavy fire trucks that must make their way irrespective of road conditions. The key to this ruggedness is steel. However, depending on the use weight may be considered a flaw, and heavy steel may not be the best option. One solution to this is to use textile socks providing a good grip and easy mounting at a very low weight – but at the expense of durability. Simply, textile does not withstand the wear when mounted on a heavy vehicle on rugged road surfaces.

Another flaw is the manual mounting. It’s tedious and puts the driver at risk since he’s often forced to mount the chains at the roadside in bad weather and at reduced visibility.

 Killing two birds with one stone - automatically

In my opinion the optimal improvement of the good old tire chains is to make them automatic, so they can be engaged and disengaged from the cab, even while driving. By this we keep the steel chains’ durability and effectiveness while completely eliminating two flaws: the mounting time and the mounting effort. For the rescue driver saving time is most important, but it doesn’t matter if it’s the mounting time or the mounting effort that is the major flaw – with Onspot Automatic Snow Chains they’re both history. 

For a more detailed comparison of traction control for rescue vehicles, download our comprehensive guide where we compare conventional tire chains with automatic chains and textile socks.

A comparison: Manual vs Automatic Snow Chains


Rescue Driving Snow chain Improve performance on icy roads

Ulrik Andersson

About Ulrik Andersson

Ulrik is Global Brand Manager - Onspot and is located at the headquarters in Vänersborg, Sweden. He has been with the company for over ten years and have been working with sales, marketing and customer relations all of the time. Ulrik enjoys spending time with his wife, family and friends. On the weekend, you might find him with a camera taking pictures since that has been a hobby of his for a long time.


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