State allows motorists to use studded tires Nov. 1

October 29, 2011

By Staff

NEW — 6 a.m. Oct. 29, 2011

The approach of winter means motorists can again use studded tires.

In Washington, studded tires can be legally used between Nov. 1 and March 31. Violators face a $124 penalty.

The state Department of Transportation recommends for motorists headed into higher elevations should carry chains and use approved traction tires year-round. If the state requires chains on a roadway, studded tires alone cannot meet the chain requirement, unless the vehicle has four- or all-wheel drive.

The abrasion on pavement surfaces caused by studded tires wears down pavement at a much greater rate.

Moreover, rutting damage caused by studded tires is limited to state routes, primarily interstates, due to higher speeds and traffic volumes. Rutting leads to safety issues such as ponding and water on roadways, hydroplaning, excessive roads spray, and steering problems.

In addition to studded tires, the Washington State Patrol reminds all drivers and freight haulers to carry sufficient chains between Nov. 1 and April 1.

Under state law, commercial vehicles and combinations of vehicles more than 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating must carry sufficient tire chains. The law applies to some larger passenger trucks, sport-utility vehicles, recreational vehicles and trucks hauling trailers.

Troopers strictly enforce the Nov. 1 deadline and failing to carry chains costs $124. If a highway advisory call for chains, drivers failing to chain up face a $500 penalty.

Troopers plan to conduct a special chain emphasis patrol in early November to ensure drivers carry the proper number of chains to include the spares.

In 2010, late October snowfall at Snoqualmie Pass and other mountain passes, led the Department of Transportation to allow motorists to start using studded tires a week early. Officials then allowed motorists to keep studded tires on until April 24 due to wintry weather at higher elevations.

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