Northwest NEWS

November 1, 1999

Local News

Studded tires now legal

   Motorists may use studded tires on Washington roads, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). State law requires that they be removed by March 31, 2000, unless WSDOT extends the deadline due to extreme weather conditions.

   Studded tires are restricted for use on state roads because they wear down road surfaces at a higher rate than other tires, causing an estimated $10 million in damages each year. Most of the damage is loss of pavement material in the wheel paths, or "rutting," but studded tires also wear out paint stripes and raised pavement markers.

   Earlier this year, the legislature passed a law to permit only highly studded tires in Washington, but that law does not go into effect until July 1, 2001. Tire studs are sold by wholesale dealers to retailers, who then insert the studs into tires for sale to consumers. Under the new legislation, wholesale tire stud dealers cannot sell heavyweight studs after Dec. 31st of this year, but retailers in Washington will have until July 1, 2000 to deplete their inventory of heavyweight studs.

   Studded tires qualify as "approved traction tires," as required or recommended on highway signs and pass reports.

   All-wheel drive (4-wheel drive) vehicles must have the proper tires when "Traction tires required" is posted. They are exempt from using chains when "Chains required" is posted, if all four wheels are in gear. However, carrying chains in the vehicle for one set of drive tires is required by state law. The Washington State Patrol (WSP) trooper at the scene may require chains be used.

   Advisories for approved traction tires, chain requirements, and road conditions for the state's mountain pass highways are available on the WSDOT Mountain Pass Report, part of the WSDOT Commuter Information Line. The mountain pass reports are available via telephone, toll-free to callers within the greater Seattle metropolitan area at 206-DOT-HIWAY (368-4499). Oustside that area, the reports are toll-free statewide at 206-800-695-ROAD (7623).

   Hearing-impaired callers using TTD's (text tele-typewriter devices) can access the reports by dialing 1-800-833-6388 and then type for extension 206-440-4040. The reports are also available free of charge on the Internet, on the WSDOT Home Page at