November 1st means drivers can begin to use studded tires as winter unfolds. By state law, studded tires can only be used through March 31st, including motorists from out of state.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) says studded tires however also damage pavement, costing taxpayers additional road repair and maintenance costs. Estimates of studded tire use cause between $20 million and $29 million to state-owned roadways each year.

Motorists are encouraged to learn about other winter tire options from local tire dealers, including stud-free and winter tread traction tires. This aggressive tread tire is different from all-season tires, and legal year-round without causing roadway damage like studded tires do.

Studded tires and winter tread traction tires do not meet the posted chain requirement during heavy snow periods. All motorists must carry chains and be prepared to install and use them when required. It is always a good idea to practice putting on chains in warmer drier conditions in advance so your skills are ready if chain installation is needed.

The Washington State Patrol (WSP) will be keeping an eye on the mountain passes this winter and those who do not have chains on when required can be looking at a ticket of up to $500. WSP maintains a list of state-approved alternative traction devices on its vehicle equipment webpage under ‘traction tires.’

WSDOT Maintenance Operations Manager James Morin said, “Many mountain pass closures, for example, are due to driver behavior, including going too fast for winter weather, inattentiveness or failing to have proper equipment like chains. We need everyone doing their part to help keep passes and roadways open and traffic moving. That includes planning their trips accordingly for weather and possible closures and staying up-to-date using WSDOT’s on-line tools.”

The Cascade passes have already had their first snow of the year. At some point soon, more snow will be on the way. Washington State Dept. of Transportation crews in the passes have geared up for winter weather including plows and teams that treat the roadways for safer travel. Motorists also need to do their part to help keep winter traffic moving safely.