Should drivers use studded tires in the snow?

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — November 1 is the first day studded tires are allowed in Oregon and Washington, but with the amount of damage they do to roads, some are wondering if the benefits the tires provide are worth it.

Cliff Pruner with Les Schwab Tires said, “Studded tires are an excellent option for winter traction.”

His store carries both tires with and without studs. He also said traction benefits gained from studded tires vary based on the type of vehicle they’re installed on.

The number of studded traction tires on Oregon roads today is only a quarter of what they were 20 years ago, according to Pruner.

Despite the decline in use, the Oregon Department of Transportation said studded tires still inflict more than $8 million worth of damage to state roads every year.

“People have an absolute right to use them if they choose to from November first through March 31. We advise that they don’t unless they decide that its for their own safety. We suggest they investigate alternatives,” said Dave Thompson with ODOT.

ODOT lacks the authority to ban studs. Such a move would have to come from the legislature.

Suggested alternatives include snow tires with a shallow cut through the tread for more grabbing power on snow or ice. Of course, mild winters the last several years have made the use of studs a moot point when it comes to winter driving, but a return to the snow and ice of winter could be just around the corner.

In Washington, a new $5 fee has been added on all new tire purchases.