Wednesday is the first day of the season to legally have studded tires on your car in Oregon. It comes as some highways on the High Desert won’t get as much attention from plows as in years past.
Due to damage studs can do to the roads, studded tires are only allowed Nov. 1 – March 31, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. Many drivers living in Central Oregon often leave them on longer because snow season in some of the higher elevations doesn’t necessarily end on March 31 despite the cut-off date.
ODOT says studded tires are tires with studs that are made of a rigid material that wears at the same rate as the tire tread. The studs must extend at least .04 inch but not more than .06 inch beyond the tread surface.
Retractable studded tires are tires with embedded studs that retract to at or below the wear bar of the tire and project not less than .04 inch beyond the tread surface of the tire when extended.
In typical winter conditions, vehicles rated at 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight or less and not towing or being towed are allowed to use traction tires in place of chains. However, in very bad winter road conditions all vehicles may be required to use chains regardless of the type of vehicle or type of tire being used.
As a reminder, ODOT has said that secondary highways in Central Oregon won’t be plowed nearly as much as they have in the past due to budget constraints. ODOT blames inflation and reduced gas tax revenue.
In its Level of Service Reduction statement in September, ODOT said some roads that were previously plowed up to four times per day may only be plowed once per day, if at all. Priority will be placed on Interstate 84 and U.S. 97, along with sections of U.S. 26 and U.S. 20.