Studded-tire season begins again Nov. 1

Oct 27, 2023, 7:44 AM | Updated: 8:57 am

Winter driving...

Make sure you have items such as a first aid kit in your car in case you get in a bad situation on the roadways. (Photo: Gerry Broome, AP)

(Photo: Gerry Broome, AP)

Nov. 1 is when studded tires become legal again in the state of Washington. This applies to all vehicles including those from outside of the state, with no exceptions.

If you need traction tires before Wednesday, Tina Werner of the State Department of Transportation suggested to, “(explore) all of your traction options, which can include non-studded winter tread tires, which are different from all-season tires. They’re legal all year round and they don’t tear up the road.”

If traction tires are too expensive for you, chains are another really great solution when it comes to providing more traction for your vehicle.

“They do cause some wear and tear to our roads but nowhere to the effect that we see with studded tires,” Werner said.

Another option is the tire sock which is easy to install but intended for short-term use.

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Looking at other options

Tire socks — also known as snow socks or auto socks — are textile devices that wrap around a vehicle’s tires to increase traction on snow and ice. They are made of a woven fabric with an elastomer attached to the inner and/or outer edge. The woven fabric covers the tire tread and is the contact point between the vehicle and the road.

Unlike the tire sock, studded tires do not meet chain requirements.

You still need to install chains over studded tires to continue driving in posted areas. Failure to comply with chain requirements could bring a fine of up to $500.

If you have never installed chains before, Tina has this tip: “Consider putting on chains maybe in their driveway this time of year to get a good practice in as opposed to being on the side of (Interstate 90) on Snoqualmie Pass and it’s dumping.”

March 31 is when studded tires need to come off to cut down on damage to our roadways. Studded tires cost the state upwards of $29 million in damages every winter. That includes damages to city and county roads.

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The State Department of Transportation typically extends this date if winter conditions still exist. And before you head over the passes it’s always a good idea to fill up with gas.

“Make sure you have a go kit,” Werner said. “Have winter essentials that are available ready to go in your vehicle, because as we know in Washington, weather can change quite rapidly.”

You can read more of Nate Connors’ stories here. Follow the KIRO Newsradio traffic team on X, formerly known as Twitter, for more traffic updates.


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