Wash. State considers studded tires bills
OLYMPIA, Wash. (Feb. 4, 2015) — The Washington State Legislature is considering two bills that would require annual permits for the use of studded tires on state roads.
Both bills were introduced on Jan. 26, according to the legislature's website. Senate Bill 5610 would require a $75 permit to use studded tires for each winter season, with a $75 fine for Washington drivers with studded tires who don't obtain the permit.
House Bill 1653 would require a $100 fee for the permit and a $500 fine for not obtaining it.
Both bills would exempt farm machinery and tires with retractable studs from the permitting rules. The House bill would also exempt emergency vehicles and school buses, but the Senate bill would require school districts and fire departments to obtain permits.
Both bills would require stickers to show the permitting fee had been paid. The Senate bill would require them for the license plate, the House bill for the windshield.
The House bill would require that 50 percent of the permitting fees go for state road maintenance, 40 percent for local road maintenance and 10 percent for administration of the permitting program. The Senate bill does not set any requirements on how the fees are to be spent.
The Washington State Transportation Commission has long called for a ban on studded tires within the state. In January 2013, the commission passed a resolution calling for the phaseout of studded tire use over a five-year period. The resolution noted that states with severe winter conditions, including Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, had already banned studded tires.
The commission also recommended a studded tire phaseout in its Washington Transportation Plan (WTP) 2035, its report to the state government proposing a 20-year action plan for transportation policy within the state.
Studded tires were banned in Washington until 1969, when the legislature voted to allow their use year-round, according to the commission's fact sheet on studded tires.
Two years later, when nearly a third of the vehicles in Washington had studded tires, state officials prevailed on the legislature to restrict studded tire use to the period between Nov. 1 and April 1, the commission said.
The fact sheet estimates that studded tires cause $16 million worth of damage to Washington roads annually, though other published estimates range from $18 million to $27 million.
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