Highway officials offer tips on chains, traction tires, studded tires

Is your vehicle ready for these conditions? Here, an Oregon Department of Transportation plow clears a Vale street during a late-season storm in 2020. (Enterprise file photo)

As colder weather and shorter days arrive, highway officials urge drivers to be prepared with traction tires or tire chains when needed for winter driving conditions.

As of this week, Oregon drivers can use studded tires on their vehicles. Studded tires are allowed Nov. 1 – March 31.

However, Tom Strandberg, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation, said that while traction tires work about as well as studs on ice, they work better than studded or regular tires in most other winter situations. The traction tires have the mountain and snowflake symbol on the side, indicating they meet manufacturers’ standards for severe snow conditions.

He also said traction tires cause less damage to roadways than either studded tires or chained up tires. Strandberg said the agency’s latest study found that studded tires cause about $8.5 million in damage to state highways.

During certain conditions, drivers are required to chain up or use traction tires. In some cases, all vehicles may be required to chain up.

Failing to follow the law can be costly. The Oregon Legislature this year upped the fine to $880 per violation. The intent is to urge compliance and avoid crashes that endanger travelers and disrupt traffic.

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