Highway 904 north of Cheney shows 15 years of wear caused primarily by studded tires. State agencies continue to try to ban the tires. So far, they’ve succeeded only in adding a new $5 fee per new studded tire to help address the damage. (WSDOT photo)

Highway 904 north of Cheney shows 15 years of wear caused primarily by studded tires. State agencies continue to try to ban the tires. So far, they’ve succeeded only in adding a new $5 fee per new studded tire to help address the damage. (WSDOT photo)

New state fee on studded tires is small, but statement is big

Drivers were able to start using studded tires on Nov. 1. The special tires are legal through March 31.

This year, there’s a new $5 fee per new studded tire purchase. Of that, 90 percent goes to a state fund set aside for road improvements. (Tire sellers keep the rest.)

The fee’s message is far bigger than its expected impact.

“The fees generated by studded tire purchases will help offset the damage that studded tires cause to our state highways, but the need is great,” said Jeff Uhlmeyer, the state’s pavement engineer.

Studded tires are blamed for beating up state roads to the tune of $18 million per year.

The Washington State Department of Transportation holds little hope that this year’s added cost will discourage studded tire use, given the fee’s one-time nature.

WSDOT and the Washington State Transportation Commission each continue to call for a phase-out of the tires. Their attempts to ban the tires fail each year.

Until this year, efforts to impose fees and taxes had failed, too. That included much larger annual permits, of $75 to $100, proposed during the same Legislative session as the $5 fee.

That may reflect a reluctance by drivers to give up the tires. In a 2014 state survey, only 53 percent of respondents supported a year-round ban on studded tires, even after being told of the damage they cause.

Federal transportation policy also favors a ban. More than a dozen states now ban tires with metal studs.

“With the new technology in tires, drivers have other options that provide better traction in most conditions but don’t cause the damage that studded tires do,” Uhlmeyer said.

Traction tires have vastly improved since Washington started allowing studded tires in 1969. These days, the benefits of studs is increasingly narrow, though there are still advantages on ice and snow near the freezing mark, according to a state review of research.

There’s no advantage in freezing weather. Ice is ice.

Have a question? Email us at streetsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your first and last name and city of residence. Look for updates on the Street Smarts blog.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Two snowboarders head up the mountain in a lift chair on the opening day of ski season at Stevens Pass Ski Area on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, near Skykomish, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Ski season delayed at Stevens Pass due to minimal snow

Resort originally planned to open Dec. 1. But staff are hopeful this week’s snow will allow guests to hit the slopes soon.

Siblings Qingyun, left, and Ruoyun Li, 12 and 13, respectively, are together on campus at Everett Community College on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023, in Everett, Washington. The two are taking a full course load at the community college this semester. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Siblings, age 12 and 13, are youngest students at EvCC campus

Qingyun Li was 11 when he scored a perfect 36 on the ACT test. His sister, Ruoyun, was one point away.

Edmond’s newly elected mayor Mike Rosen on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Mayor-elect Rosen wants to ‘make Edmonds politics boring again’

Mike Rosen handily defeated incumbent Mayor Mike Nelson. He talked with The Herald about how he wants to gather the “full input” of residents.

A speed camera facing west along 220th Street Southwest on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Traffic cameras, and tickets, come to Edmonds; Mukilteo could be next

New school zone cameras in Edmonds will begin operating in January. Mukilteo is considering enforcement cameras as well.

A person walks their dog along a flooded Old Snohomish Monroe Road on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Flood-resistant floors and sandbags are price of riverside life in Sultan

Flooding is a threat every year for 75,000 locals — and the long-term forecast suggests it’ll only get worse in the coming decades.

Everett Community College is introducing a new Trojan design as the college's symbol of student spirit and athletics. The design incorporates the Feather Star, EvCC's official logo, in the Trojan's cape.  (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Amid staffing crisis, student nurses run into shortages in education too

Everett Community College’s nursing program has 79 slots. Hundreds apply each year — and that’s just the first hurdle.

A family walks through the Wintertide lights Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, at Legion Park in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Wintertide Lights returns for the month of December in Everett

The free family event is open nightly at Evergreen Arboretum and Gardens in Legion Park.

An order is delivered to one of the first cars at Chick-Fil-A's store in Marysville on its opening day Thursday on May 21, 2020. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Chicken with a side of traffic: Everett Mall Chick-fil-A opens Dec. 7

The new Everett Mall Way restaurant is the popular chain’s fifth Snohomish County location. Openings often cause traffic backups.

A suspected gas explosion on Wednesday destroyed a house in the 19700 block of 25TH DR SE in Bothell, Washington. (Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue)
‘Gas explosion’ destroys Bothell house; no injuries

A vacant home blew up Wednesday in the 19700 block of 25th Drive SE, throwing a garage door across the street.

Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell speaks during a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the 196th ST SW Improvement Project near the 196th and 44th Ave West intersection in Lynnwood, Washington on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Jarred by anti-Semitic rants, Lynnwood council approves tax increase

Three people spewed hate speech via Zoom at a council meeting this week. Then, the council moved on to regular business.

From the patrol car footage of Everett police officer Ryan Greely, Molly Wright sits in the back of a police car after being arrested for obstructing a law enforcement officer on Aug. 10, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Screenshot from a video provided by Molly Wright)
‘My rights were violated’: Everett officer arrests woman filming him

Ryan Greely arrested Molly Wright in August on charges of obstructing, though state law generally allows filming police in public.

The Days Inn on Everett Mall Way, which Snohomish County is set to purchase and convert into emergency housing, is seen Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Over $130M for affordable housing set to be approved by County Council

The five-year investment plan of the 0.1% sales tax aims to construct 550 new affordable units.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.