Few NW drivers use studs, unless you’re under 35

In snow, do you like the security of driving with studded tires?
   We learned from the latest PEMCO Poll that two-thirds of Northwest drivers never use studded tires, and 79% of those who do would be likely to use them less if they knew for sure that studs harm our roads.
   (Both Washington’s and Oregon’s departments of transportation say they spend millions each year repairing stud damage to our roadways.)
   Also, 54% of those polled favor laws that would restrict the use of studded tires.
   Those responses largely reflect the Northwest’s big population centers, which enjoy a mild marine climate west of the Cascades. West-side lowlanders in Washington and Oregon don’t have to deal often with snow.
   For sure, we learned from the poll that folks east of the mountains – where snowy winters are the norm – oppose stricter regulations on studs, 38% versus 22% of west-siders.
   One fact caught my eye: drivers under age 35 use studded tires much more than older motorists, 38% versus 15%.
   I wonder why? Might it be because the older you get, the more skilled and confident you become with driving in snow?
   I grew up in Bellevue (the “poor” part of Bellevue, I like to say – Lake Hills). At 16 and 17 I drove a little bit in the snow at my in-law’s north Idaho ranch, but my first real taste came at age 18. The Seattle area got pounded that December with about half a foot of snow.
   College classes were canceled by the storm, so a girlfriend invited me over to bake Christmas cookies. She lived a little over a mile away, and the thought of driving in snow sounded challenging and fun.
   So I hopped in my 1961 Impala and carefully headed east. My tires had no studs. Thankfully, the neighborhood streets were nearly empty. Most people likely had sense not to drive! When my car slipped or fishtailed a little here and there, it found no targets to hit.
   In the 30 minutes it took me to drive a mile, I gained a fair amount of snow-driving skill. I arrived safely after learning how to feather the gas and brake pedals and steer into a skid.
   Being an old geezer now full of sage advice, I wouldn’t urge anyone to learn how to drive in the snow on streets and arterials. But whether you’re an adult or a teen, a vacant parking lot isn’t a bad place to gain some skills.

by  Jon Osterberg

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