OLYMPIA - The last day drivers can legally use studded tires this season in Washington is Tuesday, March 31.
"We looked at the weather forecasts for the first two weeks of April. Based on what we're seeing, the likelihood of significant ice concerns on a majority of Washington state routes is minimal," said Chris Christopher, WSDOT Director of Maintenance Operations. "We also consulted with our colleagues in Oregon and they are keeping the April 1 deadline as well."
Christopher said the weather forecasts do call for possible snow in the mountains and drivers should be prepared for possible roadway snow and ice if they travel into the higher elevations.
"The mountains will likely get snow. However, we anticipate the snowy conditions will be confined to relatively small segments of the highways in the mountain pass areas. Our crews will be ready to respond."
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The noise made by studded tires makes enforcement easy. State troopers need only listen for violators.
Troopers of the Washington State Patrol will enforce a $124 fine for those who use studded tires after the deadline. Violators are very likely to be caught, because troopers need only listen for the distinctive noise of studs grinding on pavement.
"That's the sound of damage being done to our roads," said State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste. "If we hear it we will take enforcement action."
WSDOT advises drivers to work with local tire dealers to determine the best type of tire for their anticipated winter driving conditions. WSDOT wants motorists to be aware that a variety of studded tire alternatives are available and that they can continue to use other approved traction tires. WSDOT lists alternatives to studded tires and the damage studded tires do to state highways on its web site at www.wsdot.wa.gov/winter.
In addition, starting April 1, vehicles or combination of vehicles over 10,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) can legally remove mandated tire chains. These vehicles are required to carry chains from Nov. 1 - March. 31.
WSDOT officials do advise all drivers to carry tire chains and to monitor weather forecasts at the WSDOT Web site at www.wsdot.wa.gov.
Know Before you go:
Know On the Road:
- Overhead and roadside electronic signs
- Highway advisory radio - WSDOT advises drivers to program 530AM and 1610AM on your radio.