We have no idea what winter will bring us this year, but the studded tires can now go on your vehicle starting this week.While each year fewer vehicles rely on the old-style tires to get them through winter, they are still used extensively in the Pacific Northwest. The Washington State Department of Transportation allowed them to be mounted starting Nov. 1, with a remove date of March 31, 2013.

First introduced in the 1950s, tiny metal studs imbedded in tires create what engineers believe is a distinct advantage for driving in snow and icy-conditions. While they do help somewhat, increased tire research, development and technology has shown today's advanced compounds and tread patterns actually perform better and reduce hydroplaning.

Studded tires don't really help on black ice that much over a top-rate conventional snow tire. The only place metal studs are allowed is Alaska; all other states must use rubber studs.

But the primary reason for the seasonal-use only is road damage. The WSDOT estimates damage to concrete roads annually to be about $10-16 million per year. Studded tires are most abrasive on concrete and don't chew up the asphalt as quickly.

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