The Oregon Department of Transportation, in announcing that the deadline to remove studded tires was moving from March 31 to April 15, noted that this was “only the fifth time in the past 16 years” that this has happened.

The “only” implies that this is a rare event, but we think that’s a misleading way to describe something that in fact happens nearly one year out of three.

It’s time for ODOT to make April 15 the normal deadline for studded tire use.

We understand that studded tires accelerate wear on roads. And we acknowledge that today’s studless snow tires are as effective, or more, than studded tires in many conditions.

But studded tires remain a valuable tool for many drivers — particularly those who travel frequently over mountain passes or who live east of the Cascades, where snow and ice are common well after the equinox.

Giving Oregonians the option of driving on studded tires for an extra 15 days would have a negligible effect on road wear. But there’s ample evidence, based on ODOT’s own decisions, that April 15 is the more appropriate date to cut off studded tire use. Although we who live in the high country of Eastern Oregon know well that snow can fall after that date, the likelihood of a major wintry storm declines substantially after mid-April.

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