Three bills are being proposed during the 2013 Legislative Session to regulate and/or fee studded tire use.

These comments rate the effectiveness of these attempts to put the cost of studded tire damage on the persons responsible for these burdensome costs.  State law requires that people who compromise our roads pay for any damage they’re responsible for.  This law has never been enforced due to special interest (Les Schwab & the NW Tire Dealers Assoc.) influencing legislators and blocking attempts to fee or ban studded tires.

House Bill 2277
Directs the Oregon Department of Transportation to determine biennially the amount of damage from the use of studded tires and the number of drivers using them, requires a permit to use studded tires which bears  the cost, and creates a traffic offense of operating motor vehicle with studded tires without a permit, punishable by a maximum fine of $500.
Sponsors: Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland

Pros:  This has the potential make users pay if ODOT realistically asseses the true cost of studded tire damage.  In conversations with Lucy Moore, head of ODOT’s Maintenance she told me it’s probably “$500,000,000 in damage every year”.  If they use the “we repair $11 million in damage every year”, that’s not the costs, that just what they spend.  ODOT has backlogged over a billion dollars in studded tire damaged road maintenance.  The system could be as simple as the snow-park permit.

Con: It doesn’t address the lack of necessity for studded tires most of the 5 months they are in use.  Drivers from out of state wouldn’t pay, yet their studs damage our roads too.

Conclusion: Of the three bills this has the greatest potential to make studded tire users pay for the damage they cause and reduce the use of the studded tires.

House Bill 2278
Imposes a per tire $10 fee, collected by tire dealers when they sell a new tire with studs or install studs in a tire.  The bill doesn’t apply to retractable studded tires.
Sponsors: Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland; Rep. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland; and Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Beaverton.

Pro: At least studded tire users are being forced to pay something.

Con: The charge is inadequate to  cover damage nor deter purchases. Does not charge the people who currently have studded tires.  Drivers can buy studs in border states or used tire on Craigslist and not pay the state fee.   Drivers from out of state wouldn’t pay, yet their studs damage our roads too.  Out-of-state truckers pay for using our roads and so should studded tire users. Retractable studded tires should be included in the bill.  Once you’ve paid the fee, you feel entitled to continue to use your studded tires, whereas with a yearly fee you may decide in the 2nd year studs aren’t really necessary.

Conclusion:  This bill has too many drawbacks to even be considered.

House Bill 2397
Imposes a fee, collected by tire dealers when they sell a new tire with studs or install studs in a tire. Amount of fee is to be determined during the session.  The bill would not apply to retractable studded tires.
Sponsors: Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie; Rep. Jules Bailey, D-Portland; Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland; Rep. Chris Harker, D-Beaverton; Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene; Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer, D-Portland.

Pro: At least studded tire users are being asked to pay something. If the fee were $300 or $400 (the cost of studless tires) then it has potential to incentivize drivers to choose something other than road damaging studded tires.

Con: Does not charge the people who currently have studded tires.  One could buy studs in border states or used studded tires on Craigslist and avoid paying the state fee.  Drivers from out-of- state wouldn’t pay, yet their studs damage our roads too.  Retractable studded tires are studded tires and should be included in the bill.

Conclusion:      Overtime, and with a realistic fee, this bill would address some of the issues regarding damage from studded tires and the cost to repair the roads.

In Summary the best solution is to ban studded tires and force users to switch to modern studless snow and ice tires.  They have proven to outperform studded tires in a wider range of winter driving conditions without the road damage and the safety issues regarding rutted roads.
Your support is important please write you legislator and tell them how you feel about studded tire use in Oregon.
Thanks for your support
Jeff Bernards