PORTLAND – A Portland man's effort to ban studded tires in Oregon has moved forward.
The State Supreme Court just approved a ballot title for the issue. Now Jeff Bernards needs to gather 80,000 signatures for a petition as the next step. If he succeeds, it would then go to a vote.
Oregon would not be the first state to ban studded tires. They've already been banned in several states, including Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.
The Oregon Dept. of Transportation has estimated that studded tires cause $40 million in damage to the state’s roads each year. The damage is usually visible as deep ruts on freeways.
Bernards said he hopes to get his “Preserving Oregon’s Roads” initiative on the 2012 ballot because the heavy-duty tires do more damage than good in Portland city limits.
"I don't know why people are having a hard time wrapping their minds around it, but if I put mtal prongs on my tire and drive around, it's going to ruin the road eventually," Bernards said.
Many people who use the tires argue that they have been an important life-saving tool for drivers in snow and ice condtions - especially for people heading into the Gorge or Mt. Hood.
"We have ice, we have snow. People get in wrecks. People die every single year, so banning them would be ridiculous in Oregon," said Stephanie Ryan, who drives into Portland from Hood River during the winter months.
Bernards plans to collect the signatures next summer with the goal of getting the initiative on the 2012 ballot.
As for the winter of 2011, studded tires will be legal on all vehicles from November 1st through April.