Winter Tires – Yet Again
Its winter out there again. Surprise! It comes around every year like clockwork and like clockwork the discussion about whether to have winter tires or not have winter tires on the car comes up.
Let’s go over a few basics. Most of it is simple physics, with a bit of chemistry thrown in, with a side order of stats.
Getting into a car is the most dangerous thing we do on a daily basis and kills more people each and every year in Canada than died in 911. We put on our seat belts in the hope that when we have a collision, we can absorb the impact of a collision enough to survive or at least minimize the chances of death and injury. The trouble with seat belts and air bags and all the collision effects mitigators is they are only useful during the worst circumstances, when we have a collision.
Tires on the other hand are your collision avoiders. And they are all you have that keep you on the road. Those four small patches of rubber, and their associated chemistry and physics endure incredible forces and in the worst conditions our lives depend on them. And in winter conditions, stats bear out the facts, that cars with winter tires during inclement winter weather are less likely to be involved in collisions.
Now let’s get past a number of what I think are spurious and ridiculous arguments for not using winter tires. One. Its too expensive. Wrong. Its cost very little more. You wind up spreading the tire wear load on two sets instead of one. You extend the life of your summer tires, because they are not being used for six months of the year. If your drove the summer tires, and note that I do not use the term all season tires, during the winter months they would be exposed to the salt, wear and tear of the winter conditions to which they are note well suited and would wear out sooner. So cost is a silly red herring. It really costs very little more.
Number two. You are not alone on the road. Its not about rights or cost. Travel by car is, pure and simple dangerous. And the rubber you have on the road is a serious consideration when it comes to the safety of a car. We have laws against bald tires. Assuming the tire is structurally sound, bald tires are only a bad thing if it rains. Hydroplaning becomes a serious problem only when there is water on the road. Otherwise bald is OK. And quite frankly, you could say, when it rains, one should just drive more slowly and more safely, same argument used by the all season crowd for no winter tires.
Number three, adjust you driving. Now there is a classic myth. If you think you can avoid collisions just by adjusting your driving, have a gander at the cemeteries. Its just a matter of luck and when the conditions arise you want the best that you can get to get out of it, if not for yourself, then for your friends and family. And that means snow tires.
Number four is probably the most stupid of them all. It snowed yesterday and I got home OK. That is right up there with I know someone who smoked ten cigars every day and drank a quart of rum and lived to be a ninety year old and drove while drunk. Maybe you did and there are medical marvels from Georgia, but its not about your anecdotes. Its science and stats. If you don’t put snows on your car, don’t drive when its winter. Just like drinking.
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