Rain, snow and low temperatures mark the start of studded tire season in Oregon.
From Nov. 1 through March 31, drivers are allowed to use studded tires for winter driving.
Studded tires have small metal pieces inserted all around the tire. They allow better traction on icy roads. The studs must extend at least .04 inches but not more than .06 inches beyond the tread surface, according to TripCheck.
Driving with studded tires before Nov. 1 or after March 31 is a Class C violation and carries a fine of up to $200.
Studded tires might not be useful if you plan to drive a normal commute from work to home, but can be useful for drivers who plan to make a trip in areas with snow or the mountains where temperatures drop below freezing. Tire dealers will consider driving habits and typical winter condition in your area before recommending studded or winter tires, according to Les Schwab.
While it is legal to use studded tires, the Oregon Department of Transportation says on their website that damage from studded tires cost Oregonians about $8.5 million a year “because roadways require repaving earlier than they normally would be.”
ODOT encourages motorists to either wait until conditions require studs and recommends using alternatives such as chains or traction tires that may cause less road damage.
The cost of studding varies depending on the make and model of the vehicle. And not all winter tires can have studs, so some drivers will need to buy studdable winter tires as well. Ask about pricing when making an appointment.
Tips to be prepared for winter driving conditions
It is important to keep safety in mind when driving on icy or snowy roads. Here’s how to be prepared this winter:
- Clean car windows, lights, and mirrors to improve visibility.
- Bring an emergency kit, including water bottles, basic food supplies, a small shovel, a blanket, a flashlight and an ice scraper in case you get stuck.
- Check weather and road conditions before driving.
- Extend the distance you leave between you and the car in front of you.
For up-to-date travel conditions, visit ODOT’s travel information website TripCheck. Travelers can also dial 511 for immediate road and weather information.
Consider supporting local journalism in the Mid-Willamette Valley: Sign up for a digital subscription today.