By Laura Haefeli

DONNER PASS (CBS13) — A snow surge in the Sierra caught drivers off guard and forced Caltrans to require chain controls for cars driving in both directions on Interstate 80 Monday evening.

“You get to meet so many interesting people if only for a brief moment,” Joe Lidwell, who’s been chaining tires since 1982, said. “If they don’t make people chain up here they’ll get stuck before they get over the top and as soon as that happens the road is plugged.”

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Heavy traffic and accidents are exactly what Caltrans tries to avoid by making anyone without four-wheel drive and snow tires chain up.

“You want to make sure they actually fit your tires appropriately and that you know how to install them before you travel,” Caltrans spokesperson Raquel Borrayo said.

But travelers say chaining tires is easier said than done.

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“I’ve done it once before but I don’t feel like laying in the snow…. So I’m in debate mode,” Laura Roush said. “Last time around I was leaving Reno and I got stuck with no chains. I had no idea it was going to be snowing, so I had to get towed to the nearest place to get chains.”

Roush says she’s now a pro at getting stuck in the snow and has advice for anyone in traffic like this.

“Find some good music you like, get someone to talk to if you need to, I mean, expect the worst,” she said.

According to Caltrans, the chain control speed limit on I-80 is 30 mph on 25 mph on Highway 50.

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Caltrans says wintertime accidents are caused, in large part, by people who are driving too fast.