Extend studded tire season

By Baker City Herald Editorial Board April 02, 2014 09:43 am

Nature, as usual, thumbed its frost-nipped nose at calendars, including the Oregon Department of Transportation’s.

On Tuesday, the first day studded tires were illegal on the state’s highways, a snowstorm slickened highways in Central and Southeastern Oregon.

Baker County, fortunately, was spared this storm.

But as anyone knows who has lived here for more than a few years, it’s hardly uncommon for heavy snow to fall in April (and, let’s be honest, in May or, occasionally, in June).

The state has acknowledged as much in a few recent springs by extending the deadline beyond April 1 based on forecasts of widespread snow.

Tuesday’s storm, although it was predicted by the National Weather Service, apparently didn’t rate as severe enough to warrant an extension.

Which is precisely the problem.

ODOT officials need to concede that the April 1 deadline isn’t working.

The agency should switch the studs-off date to either April 15 or, better still, April 30.

Most residents on the west side of the Cascades would probably continue to remove studded tires before March 31, and why not? The chances for westside snow beyond that date is remote.

We understand that state officials want to minimize the use of studded tires and thus reduce the damage they cause to highways.

But whatever amount of wear would accrue during two weeks or a month is not close to enough to justify forcing Oregonians to sacrifice driving safety.