ERJ staff report (TB)
Juneau, Alaska -- The sponsor of a bill in the Alaska legislature to mandate the use of winter tyres in the state during the worst winter months is waiting to garner support for the legislation before he proceeds with it, according to one of his staff members.
HB 322, sponsored by Rep. John Harris, R-Valdez, would require Alaska motorists to have either studded tyres or tyres bearing the winter tyre mountain-snowflake symbol between Dec. 15 and March 15 each year, beginning Dec. 15, 2011.
The bill had a hearing before the Transportation Committee of the Alaska House of Representatives Feb. 16.
A slide presentation made at the hearing gave Rep. Harris' rationale for HB 322. Approximately 90 percent of Alaskans drive on all-season or summer tyres in the winter, which are totally inadequate for winter driving in the state, according to the presentation. In 2007, some 6,635 auto accidents-63 percent of all the accidents in Alaska that year-occurred during the winter, it said.
Studies show that studded tyres decrease the rate of winter road accidents by 10 percent, the presentation stated. Jurisdictions that have mandated the use of winter tyres-such as Finland, Sweden and Quebec-have seen substantial reductions in auto accidents during the winter, according to the presentation.
However, Rep. Harris canceled a second hearing on HB 322 scheduled for Feb. 25.
Christopher Clark, a staffer for Rep. Harris, told Tire Business, â€œAfter the first hearing, the bill got a lot of criticism. There were phone calls, faxes, letters to the editor. A lot of people hate this bill.â€
Rep. Harris hopes to gain testimonials for the bill from public safety professionals in Alaska, including the Anchorage and Juneau police departments, Mr. Clark said. The Alaska legislature's current session ends April 18, he said.
Currently, Alaska allows the use of studded tyres from Oct. 1 to April 15 below the 60th Parallel and from Sept. 15 until May 1 above it.
From Tire Business (A Crain publication)