The Problem: Motor vehicle accidents are one of the largest sources of public health harms. For people ages 1 to 34, motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death. Almost five million people each year suffer injuries during motor vehicle crashes that require emergency care. CDC Fact Sheet: Motor Vehicle Safety. Adverse weather conditions including snow and ice contribute to the incidence of motor vehicle crashes. Some evidence suggests that studded tires reduce accidents in inclement weather by providing better traction for motor vehicles. Studded tires are also known to damage road surfaces.
The Law: States have the authority to ban or limit the use of studded tires. Some ban all studded tires, see Fl Rev Stats 316.299(Florida), 9 ID Statutes 49-948 (Idaho), and Wisc. Trans Code 306.01 (Wisconsin). Other states have enacted seasonal limitations on their use, see 90 MGL 60 (Massachusetts), Ca Vehicle Code § 27454 (California), 67 Pa. Code. § 175.80 (Pennsylvania) and OH R.S.5589.081 (Ohio).
The Evidence: According to the author of a peer-reviewed meta-analysis, laws banning studded tires result in small increases in motor vehicle crashes during winter months. Elvik. The effects on accidents of studded tires and laws banning their use: a meta-analysis of evaluation studies. Accident Analysis & Prevention 1999; 31:125-134. Of the 7 studies that Elvik identified as meeting the inclusion criteria, two were based in the United States, one in Canada, one in Germany and three in Japan. Six of the studies found that laws banning studded tires were associated with small increases in accidents during winter seasons. A meta-analysis revealed a weighted mean increase in winter accidents of 4 percent. This finding is consistent with meta-analysis results in the same review indicating that actual studded tire use reduces accident rates during winter.
The Bottom Line: According to the author of a peer-reviewed meta-analysis, the evidence suggests that banning studded tires causes a small increase in motor vehicle accidents during the winter.