Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Defending the facts

After a column about studded tires, I received many email responses supporting their non-use.

D.M. wished, “I would like your article to at least get more people to go from studs to quality winter tires.”  J.C. reflected, “…in all the years of my driving I have and never will use studded tires on my rigs. I think they give the users an over confidence.  I have never been in a wreck or stuck due to not having studs. I think that if they want to keep them legal that they should be taxed at least $50.00 a tire.” 

But one reader, K.D., retorted, “I have used studded tires all my life, and I find myself disagreeing with everything in your article.”

It’s hard to believe that he finds himself “disagreeing with everything” in my column, since it contained facts rather than opinion.  In that column, I first state that studs increase road wear.  That is a fact.  I next state that a slight studded traction advantage exists only on glare ice.  That is a fact.  Then, I state that studded tire grip is inferior to non-studded tires on wet or dry roads.  That is a fact.

Research results of studies by state transportation departments, universities, tire manufacturers and others reveal that road wear from studded tires is substantial.  That data is considered by state lawmakers when banning studded tire use, as 11 states including the snow-laden Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin have done.  Does K.D. really believe that drivers in those states are now helpless?  Those same studies show that the stud grip advantage is only on glare ice, and is minimal to non-existent when compared to quality winter-specific tires.  

K.D. insists, “Your statement about having less grip and stopping distance is in my opinion is pure fiction I have NEVER found this to be true in 40 plus years of driving.”  Again test results show studded tires to have an average of nearly 10% (worse on concrete) greater stopping distance on wet or dry roads and less lateral adhesion for cornering grip.  Given that, an emergency freeway stop with studs on concrete will take a couple extra car lengths to complete compared to all-rubber tires.

K.D. further proclaims, “Studded tires have saved my and my family’s lives dozens and dozens if not hundreds of times every year.”  Does he really believe that every driver without studded tires is in peril?  With those dozens and dozens of opportunities, it sounds like certain death without studs!

There was only one email that refuted my column — one of 11 — reflecting the dwindling ratio of studded to non-studded tire users in Washington.

And K.D. wonders why companies still sell studded tires if they are not effective.  Actually, many do not.  Goodyear stopped selling them in 1978.  Costco also stopped selling studded tires, citing road wear and environmental concerns, in 2007.  Some companies will always go after the dollars as long as some demand, while shrinking, exists.

1978 is the year I gave up studs and found that Goodyear’s Tiempo and Arriva (winter tires of the era) performed admirably over the next decade of travelling my work territory of Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming during winter.  Those runs were made in every conceivable condition including those causing road closures. 

But my own experiences and opinions are not necessarily proven facts.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at