Q: When I was young so many years ago, there was a prohibition concerning tires that extended outside the fenders of the vehicle they were mounted on. ... It seems that this rule has changed, or at least it is no longer being enforced. I see many trucks — mostly those that are jacked way up in the air — that have significant amounts of tire extending outside of the wheel well. What is the rule where this is concerned? — Tom
A: I'm sure Tom is still plenty young, or at least young at heart. But let's focus on what seems to be the crux of his question: What are the rules around fenders — or splash aprons — for tires? Especially big tires that can fling up water, mud and rocks.
(I promise we're not hating on big trucks again.)
To help with this question, Sgt. James Prouty of the Washington State Patrol pointed us to RCW 46.37.500, the state law about fenders.
It states: "...no person may operate any motor vehicle, trailer, cargo extension, or semitrailer that is not equipped with fenders, covers, flaps, or splash aprons adequate for minimizing the spray or splash of water or mud from the roadway to the rear of the vehicle. All such devices shall be as wide as the tires behind which they are mounted and extend downward at least to the center of the axle."
The driver of a vehicle found violating this law could get a $136 ticket, Prouty said. Troopers are out on the road stopping vehicles without the right-sized fenders, he added.
"This RCW is in place to prevent spraying of water and mud and debris," he said. "I think a lot of people have experienced a cracked windshield, and if a rock comes from a tire and hits somebody’s windshield, that can definitely be dangerous."
As usual, there's an exception. This one involves antique cars.
According to Subsection 2 of that RCW, "A motor vehicle that is not less than 40 years old or a street rod vehicle that is owned and operated primarily as a collector's item need not be equipped with fenders when the vehicle is used and driven during fair weather on well-maintained, hard-surfaced roads."