CHAIN SCAM: Don’t Fall Victim To Opportunists Selling Chains

Installers at “official” chain control locations are licensed by Caltrans and are clearly identified by their outfits and identification numbers. (Photo by

By Michael P. Neufeld

Mountain Communities – Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department are cautioning residents and visitors not to become a victim of opportunists attempting to force motorists to purchase their chains.

(Contributed Photo)


The media advisory states:

The only people who can tell you that you have to put on chains are Caltrans, CHP, the Sheriff’s Department or any law enforcement agency.

NOBODY is authorized to sell you chains at chain control.”


CHAINS Lake Gregory
A chain control station located at Highway 18 and Lake Gregory Drive in Crestline. (Photo by Caltrans)

Each year, Caltrans issues a limited number of Chain Installation Permits and prospective new applicants must attend a mandatory training session and successfully pass a test.

A lottery of all applicants is conducted and those selected are assigned to one of six Caltrans District 8 designated chain control locations.


The six designated locations in the mountain communities are:

  • HIGHWAY 18 – From San Bernardino to Lucerne Valley, including Snow Valley [20 permit positions]
  • HIGHWAY 18 – Big Bear Dam for down bound traffic [10 permit positions]
  • HIGHWAY 330 – From I-210 (San Bernardino) to Highway 18 (Running Springs) [25 permit positions]
  • HIGHWAY 38 – From Bryant Street (Redlands) to Hatchery Road (Big Bear City) [20 permit positions]
  • HIGHWAY 38 – Hatchery Road (Big Bear City) for down bound traffic [10 permit positions]
  • HIGHWAY 138 – From Highway 2 to I-15 (Cajon Pass) and I-15 to Highway 2 both directions [5 permit positions]

NOTE: No chain use or chain installation is permitted on I-15 (Cajon Pass).

“Official” chain installers are easy to spot and all have identification numbers. (Caltrans Photo)