Washington Drivers Urged to Prepare for Winter Weather


Drivers can start installing studded tires on vehicles Nov. 1. The Washington State Department of Transportation said in a press release that studded tires are legal through March 31.

All-weather tires without studs are legal year-round.

Drivers should start preparing for bad weather before the snow starts to pile up, the press release said. Department of Transportation Maintenance Operations Manager James Morin wrote in the press release that WSDOT crews are prepared for winter conditions, but that drivers need to be ready also.

“Most pass closures are due to preventable spin outs or crashes from vehicles driven too fast, or not having proper equipment,” he wrote.

Department of Transportation officials recommend that drivers check weather conditions before they leave, the press release said. The information is available on the WSDOT website, www.wsdot.com.

Drivers should prepare their vehicles for winter, and plan extra time for the trip, especially if they’re crossing mountain passes. The DOT uses two radio stations, 530 AM and 1610 AM, to update drivers on current traffic information. People also can find information on WSDOT social media; the agency has a downloadable app for phones.

A separate text thread is available for up-to-date information on Snoqualmie Pass. People can text 468311 with the words “WSDOT Snoqualmie.”

Changing pass conditions will change the requirements for vehicles traveling the passes.

“Although some vehicle manufacturers recommend against the use of tire chains for certain models, that doesn’t excuse travelers from state traction device laws,” the press release said.

The Washington State Patrol has a list of approved alternatives to tire chains on its website, www.wsp.wa.gov. Click on the “traction tires” tab.

“Special chain enforcement patrols will be keeping an eye on mountain passes this winter,” the press release said. “Failure to obey a tire chains sign can mean a ticket of up to $500.”

Drivers should know what the requirements actually are, the press release said.

The WSDOT also has recommendations to make winter driving safer on its website.

Drivers are advised to drive for the conditions — slower speed and slower acceleration are good ideas when it’s bad out there, and so is leaving extra room to stop when in traffic. The larger the vehicle, the longer it will take to stop, the press release said.

Drivers should not use cruise control.

“Four-wheel and all-wheel vehicles do not stop or steer better on ice,” the WSDOT press release said.