Daily Catch

Mandatory snow tire bill has been withdrawn

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Approximately 96 hours after this publication questioned the merits of a bill to require all Maine drivers to equip their cars with snow tires or all-weather tires from October 2 through the last day of April, the sponsor of the legislation has withdrawn the bill.

According to WGME 13, Rep. David McCrea has pulled his bill from consideration this session. According to a spokesperson for Rep. McCrea, the intent of the legislation was to advance a conversation about driving safety, which he feels has been accomplished.

On Monday, one day before he withdrew his bill, Rep McCrea gave the following statement:

“This bill is about safety. Having taught Drivers Education part time in Aroostook County for 45 years, I have always encouraged drivers to equip their vehicles with appropriate tires at all times. Certainly, most cars are equipped with either snow or all-weather tires during the winter months, but others push through Maine’s arduous winters using summer tires for a multitude of reasons. My bill aims to reduce hazards for all drivers who share the roads. One of my main purposes for introducing this bill is to ensure we have a conversation about this important issue. Should the bill move ahead, I will look to the Maine State Police, who already monitor studded tires from May to October, to direct us on how to ensure drivers adhere to the potential new rule. I look forward to hearing how citizens feel this bill will impact them and to working together to ensure safety for drivers across the state.”

There’s no doubt that Rep. McCrea submitted his bill with good intentions. However, it’s incumbent upon elected leaders to consider the full impacts of a law before it is proposed. Outside of the poverty arguments we made last week, there are a number of other reasons the bill failed on its face.

As Rep. McCrea acknowledges, most cars are already equipped with snow tires or all-weather tires during the winter months. If the bulk of drivers in the state are already doing what is best in terms of safety on our roadways, why must we implement a mandate?

It’s also worth noting that most motor vehicle accidents are caused by speeding or distracted driving. If you’re not paying attention to the road or not traveling at a safe speed, it does not matter what tires you have; odds are you’ll be in an accident.

In addition, had the bill not been withdrawn and eventually passed, there’s no telling how the Chief of the State Police would have defined “snow tires” and “all-weather tires.” Tire companies have developed their own standards that government could mirror, but the real concern was how the rules could have differed from existing standards – particularly when it comes to the condition of tires.

If the measure passed, it seems hard to believe that, if an individual was pulled over with bald snow tires in the middle of January, they couldn’t be cited in some manner. If, as Rep. McCrea stated, the intent of the bill was to promote safety, how could rules be adopted as a result that do not punish people for failing to replace bald tires in a timely manner? In effect, this could have allowed police to issue citations to drivers who have valid inspection stickers but are driving on tires that would not pass an inspection.

Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about these concerns any longer – at least not this legislative session.

We commend Rep. McCrea for the wise decision of withdrawing this bill.

About Jacob Posik

Jacob Posik, of Turner, is the director of communications at The Maine Heritage Policy Center (MHPC) and the editor of The Maine Wire. He formerly served as a policy analyst at MHPC. Posik can be reached at jposik@mainepolicy.org.

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