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Time To Remove Those Studded Tires

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By Paul Johnson

Boise, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) - Drivers can still use studded tires on Idaho roadways, but only for a few days longer, the Idaho Transportation Department announced. After that, Gem State drivers join those in Washington, Utah and Oregon, where the springtime studded tire removal date has already passed.
Idaho state law allows the use of studded tires Oct. 1 - April 30 each year. Driving with studded tires outside of that timeframe is a non-moving equipment violation with a fine of $67, according to the Idaho State Police.
Because studded tires can damage Idaho highways, drivers are encouraged to use non-studded traction tires or delay the use of studded tires until necessary. Studded tires are snow tires with small metal cleats embedded in the tread for greater traction.
Driving on studded tires may cause excess wear on bare roadways. Idaho has no recent cost estimate, but there are regional examples. In Oregon, studies have concluded that studded tires cause at least $40 million in damage each year on city streets, county roads and state highways. Washington State DOT estimates the cost at $17.8 to $27.3 million in wear and tear annually.
Research shows that studded tires are more effective than all-weather tires on icy roads, but are less effective in most other conditions because they may reduce contact between the road and the tire.
Studless traction tires that meet Rubber Manufacturers Association standards for use in severe snow conditions carry a special symbol on the tire sidewall. The symbol depicts a three-peaked mountain and snowflake.
Studded tire laws vary in neighboring states. Authorized start and stop dates, which can be extended based on conditions, are:

* Montana: Oct. 1 - May 31
* Nevada: Oct. 1 - April 30
* Utah: Oct. 15 - March 31
* Oregon: Nov. 1 - March 31
* Washington: Nov. 1 - March 31
* Wyoming: Legal all year
Idaho's law was amended in 2002 to allow studded tires until April 30. The legal removal date prior to that had been April 15. Idaho Code 49-948(3)(b) now contains this provision: "Special exemptions from the prohibited dates may be granted by the Idaho transportation board if it is found by the board that enhancements to public safety outweigh the increased pavement wear."

Idaho law in 2003 also mandated lightweight studs because the heavier studs were found to cause too much wear to the highway surface.


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