The sponsor of a bill in the Alaska legislature to mandate the use of winter tires in the state during the worst winter months is waiting to garner support for the legislation before he proceeds with it, according to one of his staff members.
HB 322, sponsored by Rep. John Harris, R-Valdez, would require Alaska motorists to have either studded tires or tires bearing the winter tire mountain-snowflake symbol between Dec. 15 and March 15 each year, beginning Dec. 15, 2011.
The bill had a hearing before the Transportation Committee of the Alaska House of Representatives Feb. 16.
A slide presentation made at the hearing gave Mr. Harris' rationale for HB 322. Approximately 90 percent of Alaskans drive on all-season or summer tires in the winter, which are totally inadequate for winter driving in the state, according to the presentation. In 2007, 6,635 auto accidents63 percent of all the accidents in Alaska that yearoccurred during the winter, it said.
Studies show that studded tires decrease the rate of winter road accidents by 10 percent, the presentation stated. Jurisdictions that have mandated the use of winter tiressuch as Finland, Sweden and Quebechave seen substantial reductions in auto accidents during the winter, according to the presentation.
However, Mr. Harris canceled a second hearing on HB 322 scheduled for Feb. 25.
Christopher Clark, a staffer for Mr. Harris, told Tire Business, After the first hearing, the bill got a lot of criticism. There were phone calls, faxes, letters to the editor. A lot of people hate this bill.
Mr. Harris hopes to gain testimonials for the bill from public safety professionals in Alaska, including the Anchorage and Juneau police departments, Mr. Clark said. The Alaska legislature's session ends April 18, he said.
Alaska allows the use of studded tires from Oct. 1 to April 15 south of the 60th Parallel and from Sept. 15 until May 1 north of it.
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