Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Snow, or no snow, studded tires have to be off your vehicles today!

Despite the wintery weather of yesterday and forecasts for flurries all week, the provincial government has not extended the deadline as it has for the past two years.

The fine for not complying with the tire-removal order is $20. Provincial law prohibits the use of studded tires between May 1 and Oct. 31.

The tires may be coming off  but the debate on the future legality of using them us up in-the-air. The City of St. John's and the provincial government are researching the effectiveness of a ban on studded tires. Council, says that  the the usage of the tires has become a multi-million-dollar maintenance headache.

Typically, 60 to 120 studs are inserted into each tire’s tread. These studs cut into road ice, and chip away at pavement. Many people feel that the studs make Winter driving safer because of the way the metal pins bite into the ice and caused enough friction to prevent slipping and sliding. They make it easier and safer to drive on snowy, icy roads.

Studies in other jurisdictions have led to a ban on the tires because of the damage they are believed to be doing to asphalt roads. Memorial Engineering professor Claude Daley has advocated a theory that the ruts on our highways are being caused by wear and tear related to studs.

 I would not be so quick to rush to judgement. While there is no doubt that studded tires damage roads, the role of heavy equipment should no be dismissed out of hand. We also should investigate the quality of the pavement that is laid in this province. In other provinces, like Nova Scotia, the government hires a third party to inspect the quality of asphalt laid by contractors. This is to ensure no shortcuts are taken and that the desired grade is achieved. If the government approved testers disagree with the contractor, the section in question is redone. Perhaps our government needs to re-examine it's tendering and testing programs to ensure the job is done right the first time.

My question, before rushing to judgement, is, does the safety benefits of using studded tires outweigh the costs of the damage they may do to our highway infrastructure?

1 comment:

Tony said...

I find it VERY difficult to swallow that studded tires are causing the problem when I keep hearing about the poor quality ashphalt specs, the revised mixtures, and see the overloaded vehicles as well as increased traffic (over years ago) as well larger family vehicles. No doubt studs affect the road surface, however I am confident that it is not the leading causal factor in the road problems.