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

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

1 pedestrian dead after car crash on I-5 south of Marysville

Around 5 p.m., a car crashed into a pedestrian along I-5. Investigators believed a man had parked on the shoulder to refuel.

FILE - A person walks near the Legislative Building, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington's redistricting commission failed to meet its deadline and on Tuesday, Nov. 16, kicked the job of creating new political maps to the state Supreme Court. The bipartisan commission had a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday to approve new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts following the 2020 census. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Do Snohomish County lawmakers want a 2020 presidential rematch?

The Herald contacted seven Republican legislators representing parts of Snohomish County about their primary choice. Five did not respond.

A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer will spend about $43 billion to buy Seagen and broaden its reach into cancer treatments, the pharmaceutical giant said. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, File)
Pfizer backs out of Everett manufacturing plant after $43B Seagen deal

Pfizer finalized the acquisition of the Bothell-based cancer drug developer in December.

Photo provided by 
Economic Alliance
Economic Alliance presented one of the Washington Rising Stem Awards to Katie Larios, a senior at Mountlake Terrace High School.
Mountlake Terrace High School senior wins state STEM award

Katie Larios was honored at an Economic Alliance gathering: “A champion for other young women of color in STEM.”

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

“It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

Firefighters respond to a report of a smoke alarm going off in the 100 block of West Main Street in Monroe on Monday morning. Fire officials confirmed the fire was coming from living quarters above Good Brewing Co. (Provided by Snohomish County Regional Fire and Rescue).
Fire damages apartment above Monroe brewery

Good Brewing Co. on West Main Street was listed as permanently closed Monday.

Tom Ceurvorst picks up his food order at Big Chicken on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Free ice cream Wednesday for Shaq’s birthday at Big Chicken in Mukilteo

Sign a card for the NBA Hall of Famer and restaurant founder. Shaquille O’Neal turns 52 on March 6.

A table setting inside the Grouchy Chef on Sunday, March 3, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington.(Annie Barker / The Herald)
Mukilteo’s one-of-a-kind Grouchy Chef is hanging up his apron

Takayuki Masumoto, “who absolutely brooks no nonsense from his patrons,” is looking for a buyer. Name not included.

Flowers for slain trooper Chris Gadd begin to collect outside Washington State Patrol District 7 Headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Police: Lynnwood man consumed cannabis, beer before crash into trooper

Trooper Chris Gadd, 27, was stopped along I-5 when he was hit and killed early Saturday. Troopers suspect Raul Benitez Santana was impaired.

Madi Humphries, 9, Rose Austin, 13, and Eirene Ritting, 8, on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
No grades, no teachers: Inside a Bothell school run by student vote

Each day at The Clearwater School, 60 students choose their own lessons. It’s one vote per person, whether you’re staff or student.

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.