Our Northwest

Studs legal; chains vs. 4-wheel drive in snow

Friday, November 2, 2012by  Jon Osterberg

Studded tires became legal Nov. 1 when winter driving laws took effect. Do you know the traction requirements for driving over snowy Washington mountain passes?
     The state Department of Transportation issues traction advisories as warranted by conditions and posts them on signs above highways. Here’s how those advisories are defined, from least to most restrictive:
Traction tires advised. To qualify as traction tires, your tires must have at least one-eighth inch of tread and be labeled Mud and Snow, M+S, All Season, or have a Mountain/Snowflake symbol.
Traction tires required. Standard tires are not permitted. Chains are required on all vehicles over 10,000 gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), including large passenger trucks and SUVs over 10,000 GVWR.
Tire chains required. Vehicles with 4-wheel drive are exempt when 4-wheel drive is engaged. However, in rare conditions, the DOT can require chains on all vehicles, and even 4-wheel drive vehicles must have them – on all four tires.
     Go to Washington DOT’s Web site to learn more about winter travel tips and restrictions.

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