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Winter tires: Get a grip, people!

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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Michael 11.30.-1, 12:00 AM

    I agree with you Sari on this one! Well put. But I hope it doesn’t pass…

  • red rabbit 08.18.07, 1:09 AM

    Oh Sari.

    You are terrible. You have some good points but it doesn’t excuse the lousy driving due to cellphones. My main problem is the location: if they were to ban phones on city streets rather than highways they might be addressing the problem.

    In the end, it’s irrelevant as it, like any other QC traffic law, will never be enforced.

    I’ll have to give you a call. But not while you’re driving 😉

  • webado 12.07.09, 11:50 PM

    I know this is an old post. But it’s that time of the year again when it becomes current.

    One year after this law came into effect the results have been dismal as far as I can tell.

    Last year it became virtually impossible to buy, or if bought, to install snow tires. The store ran out of stock and garages were flooded with customers needing tires installed. Even the store that sold them like Walmart and Canadian Tire were (and still are) ill equipped to install them. I drove around at the time with my brand new snow tires in my trunk because Walmart was unable to install them for 3 weeks running – and I was unable to ever get there at 5am to take a number at 8am to get them installed eventually on the same day – any day. It’s obscene how this law degenerated into horror stories.

    Then half way through last winter one of those brand new tires got a flat – Walmart was unable to repair or replace the tire as none were available anywhere in that brand and size – so I had to drive the rest of the winter with 3 snow tires and an all-season tire – presumably illegally, but what could I do? This fall I tried for weeks to get this tier replaced at Walmart – first it was too early, please come back later, then it was the mad rush again and it’s first come first served. Got that darned tire by miracle – but got the lot instaleld by an independent garage (so much for Walmart’s free installation service).

    And to top it all, we have noticed a very marked decrease in the snow clearing and salting effort on the island of Montreal. It’s as if the government has decided that snow tires are enough to get us out of the winter mess. It’s quite a disgrace, and we are no closer to safer driving conditions – quite the opposite.

    Did I hear somebody say to use public transit? Yeah, right … I’d love to use it if it was worth a damn. My notion of a daily commute does not accept 2.5 hours each way – which is what public transit takes at the best of times from DDO to my job in the East end.

    Happy winter 🙂