Studded tires cost state millions in road damage

Published: Sep. 12, 2019 at 9:25 PM AKDT
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Studded tires cost the state about $13.7 million in road damage each year, according to a recent UAA report. While that's a lot of money, studs are an important tool for Alaskan drivers, and the report proposes some alternatives for winter driving, too.

“We have what we call the heavy studs and we have the light studs,” says Civil Engineering Professor Osama Abaza. “Though both have the same efficiency, same outcome, the heavy studs cause twice as much damage."

Abaza authored the study in conjunction with UAA’s Institute of Economic and Social Research.

The damage can be costly, but heavy studs are taxed by the state, which goes toward maintaining roads, but there’s a catch,

“The taxes we collect are simply insignificant compared to the cost of fixing our roadways as a result of the studs,” Abaza says. “Actually, it's really 40 times as much."

Slick winter conditions are a guarantee in Alaska, so how can the state keep a grip on finances, while drivers keep a grip on the road?

“There are technologies out there for people to consider that don’t do damage to the highways like studded tires,” says Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Research Program Manager Anna Bosin.

“The options are simply the new technology in using a special type of rubber that provides the same traction on different kinds of surfaces..." Abaza says. “The studded ones are really, have a little advantage when you're dealing with a sheet of ice, but they do have a disadvantage when you're dealing with dry pavement."

Stil, studless tires won't work for everyone, so it's important to figure out what works for you, and your vehicle.

“We have alternatives for the use of the studs out there,” Abaza says. “And we encourage the public to go and explore the other options and make the right choice for themselves."

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