From Oct. 1 until April 30, drivers are allowed to drive vehicles equipped with studded tires, according to the Idaho Transportation Department.
A studded tire is a tire that has been modified with metal studs designed to create traction when a driver encounters icy roads or snow, according to the Tire-Track website.
Reed Hollinshead, the public information specialist for the Idaho Transportation Department, said studded tires are only permitted during these dates because of the damage they can cause on regular roads and highways during the rest of the year.
The damage can be so significant that the state of Idaho estimates studded tires cause $10 million in damage to its roads, and the state of Washington estimates that its roads suffer anywhere from $17.8 million to $27.3 million dollars annually, according to the Idaho Transportation Department.
Hollinshead said if someone is caught driving a vehicle with studded tires installed during the off-season, the driver will be fined $67.
“It is called a nonmoving violation,” Hollinshead said. “The individual will be fined $67.”
Captain Randy Lewis of the Rexburg Police Department said [the department] has had a lot of problems with people who had cars equipped with studded tires.
“The law was placed to prevent the use of studded tires during a certain times of the year to prevent damage,” Lewis said. “Those studs will come out; with speed, they will fling out of there, so if you are following a car down the freeway at 60 or 70 mph and they have studded tires, you won’t know it until your windshield gets knocked out.”
Lewis said the state is concerned with damage to roads, property and personal injury, all of which can occur if individuals who have cars with studded tires are not careful.
Lewis said that one of the common things for drivers with studded tires to do is to “give their engine the onion,” or, in other words, accelerate while stuck in the snow.
Lewis said that the end result is that the studs come out of the tires and cause damage to property and injury to people.
Lewis said the Rexburg City Police has not yet dealt with a call that involved someone getting hit with a stud from a tire, but property and road damage is more common.
Jay Daric Hepworth, a salesman at the Jiffy Lube tires store, said studded tires are good, but it would be much cheaper to get all-season tires, tires that are designed for all weather conditions and are legal year-round.
“Studded tires will go anywhere from $90 to $150 per tire for an average car,” Hepworth said. “Snow tires cost about $75 per tire, and all-season tires cost similar to the snow tires.”
Hepworth said all-season tires go through a process called “siping” in which the rubber is modified so that it can perform like a snow tire.
Hollinshead said the dates permitting the use of studded tires could be changed temporarily to fit the weather conditions of the state.
In contrast to states like Idaho, Montana and Nevada, which have similar laws regarding studded tires permitted on their highways, states like Wyoming permit the use of studded tires year-round, according to the Idaho Transportation Department.