Quebec’s mandatory winter tire law comes into effect on Monday. If you’re driving with all-season or summer tires, you’ll officially be breaking the law in less than a week. And I, for one, am sick of all the whining and complaining about this law.
On principle, I usually oppose excess government regulation, especially when there’s scant evidence that it is warranted (e.g. the handheld cell phone ban, which has popular but virtually no evidentiary support). But, unlike that law, I happen to think that this one is very sensible.
Look, people, it’s quite simple. In Quebec, we have winter. Winter means lots of snow. And ice. And cold. If you’re driving in that weather without proper winter tires, you’re not only endangering yourself, you’re endangering everyone else on the road. The rubber compound in winter tires is designed for the cold temperatures, and the tread provides more traction on snow and ice. Last winter, 10% of cars on the road didn’t have winter tires, but they accounted for 38% of accidents. Driving without winter tires in winter isn’t safe. Period.
There are provisions made for people who store their cars or go south for the winter. There was plenty of warning to get equipped. The main difficulty will be in enforcement, and police will probably grapple with that one for a while. But aside from that, it’s a good law, designed to protect drivers and passengers and prevent deaths.
Most of the whining seems to be about the cost of winter tires. But owning and operating a vehicle costs money. Even if you own your car free and clear and are no longer making car payments, there’s insurance, gas, parking, maintenance, all to the tune of thousands of dollars a year. Winter tires will cost you several hundred dollars, true, but you can amortize that cost over several seasons. Plus, you’ll extend the life of your summer tires by only using them for half the year.
Bottom line: The cost of winter tires is a fraction of the total cost of car ownership. If you can’t afford the tires, you shouldn’t be driving a car, so quit whining and get a bus pass. You’ll save thousands and help the environment, too. Otherwise, invest in a good set of winter tires. For your sake, and for everyone else’s.