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Idaho Transportation Department Says It's Time To Take Off Those Studded Tires

Sandor Weisz

The Idaho Department of Transportation (ITD) is reminding drivers to remove their studded tires this spring. Idaho law says use of studded tires is only legal between October 1 and April 30, and people caught with them beyond that date could be fined $67.

Studded tires have small metal cleats embedded in the rubber to provide traction on snow and ice.

They first showed up in 1963 and were a replacement for tire chains. According to a Washington State Transportation Commission study, by 1972 some states reported 30 percent of cars had studded tires. Alaska, Montana, and Vermont had up to 60 percent of cars using the tires.

The tires are useful in the winter time, but on bare pavement ITD says they can damage Idaho roadways. The state hasn’t studied how much damage the tires do in Idaho. But Oregon studies have shown that studs cause $40 million a year in damage to roadways. Washington’s Department of Transportation says wear and tear by studs costs between $17.8 and $27.3 million a year.

One reason the fix is so expensive: the studs chip into concrete, cutting ruts in the road. Plus those ruts can fill with water when it rains and contribute to hydroplaning, and the chipping also creates road dust. That toxic dust lead Japan to ban studded tires in 1990.

Issues like these have led many states to regulate seasonal use of the tires. In Idaho, if you’re caught with studs after April 30, it’s a non-moving equipment violation. Oregon and Washington only allow the tires to stay on through March 31.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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