Dear Tire Police,
Well, here you are again. Shilling for the tire companies. Urging us to all get winter tires.
I can’t read a newspaper or listen to the radio without hearing one of you so-called “experts” recommending that drivers shell out hard-earned money to fit their vehicles with the appropriate tires required for winter driving conditions.
“Beware! Beware!” you cry. Anyone driving in this country without winter tires is asking for disaster. It’s all a bunch of environmentalist overreaction.
Why do you think snow and cold are so dangerous? I’ve never seen a snowflake shoot anyone. This is Canada. We can take a little snow and cold. Nope, the sad fact is that this hue and cry is an annual event designed to stop us from exerting our god-given right to be in, and be the cause of, traffic accidents.
I, for one, won’t fall for it.
I know lots of reasonable citizens who choose to ride out the harsh, perilous winter on balding all-seasons. Should they be locked up? Just because they feel that it’s more important to save a few hundred dollars rather than protect the safety of themselves, their loved ones and others? Don’t believe me? Why don’t you do a bit of research – during the winter, you can find many of them recuperating at any one of our country’s well-run, under-crowded hospitals.
There are many good reasons for a driver who lives in this country – a climate where it’s winter 13 out of every 12 months (few people know it, but summer in Canada is actually a winter-induced group hallucination caused by prolonged exposure to extreme cold).
What if they have winter tires, but they left it too long to put them on? Why should they pay the money? What if they are going to sell their vehicle in the spring and they don’t want to invest in a new quartet of winter rubber? Sure, they might find themselves driving in a heavy snowstorm or on icy conditions, and they might – might – because they didn’t get winter tires, end up in a bad, potentially fatal car accident. But that’s all “might.” If they don’t get winter tires, they are sure to save at least $400.
What if they live in a big city? Everyone knows that it doesn’t snow in big cities and, when it does, thousands of dedicated city workers descend on the city’s streets like a plague of civic-minded snow-eating locusts.
Sorry to burst your bubble, Tire Police, but in places like Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton, the city streets are clear – bone-dry – 20 minutes after any snowfall.
But let’s say, for argument’s sake, that the city’s street remained covered in snow and ice for days (or weeks) on end. Let’s just pretend that, instead of cleaning the streets in 20 minutes, workers leave the streets virtually untouched and spend their time seeing how completely they can encase vehicles in mountains of heavily packed snow.
Well, even so, there are too many cars on the road for accidents to be a problem. Even if conditions are terrible, there’s no problem. There’s safety in numbers. Remember? Every smart driver knows the old adage – snow and ice plus millions of tired, angry, poorly trained drivers equals road safety.
It’s around this time of year that you Tire Police throw a bunch of science nonsense at us tire-skeptics. Here’s a doozy from some think-tank calling itself Transport Canada, “Tires marked “M + S” (Mud and Snow), or ‘all-season’ tires that do not have the peaked mountain with snowflake symbol, may provide safe performance in most weather conditions, but are not designed for snow and ice-covered roads.”
Oh really, Transport Canada? Snow is worse than mud? Ever get mud on you? It sticks. There might even be dog poop in it. You have to wash it off – with soap! Meanwhile, snow comes in lovely flakes (no two are alike) and it melts away into water (which if you were really thirsty, you could drink). So, nice try, but I’m not buying it. Any tire that can handle mud can handle a bit of nice fluffy snow.
And then there’s the other old saw: even if there’s no snow, the cold makes it dangerous to ride on all-seasons. Again from Transport Canada, “At temperatures below 7C, standard tires begin to lose elasticity, resulting in reduced traction. Winter tires retain their elasticity to grip at much lower temperatures.”
The best of the bunch is the assertion that “having four matching tires improves vehicle handling, don’t mix tires with different tread patterns, internal construction and size.” Sorry, but this doesn’t make sense. If winter tires are so awesome, then one winter tire (on the rear left) is better than no winter tires at all.
So, nice try, Tire Police, but this is one driver who is going bareback. I’m not falling for your winter-tire-loving propaganda. They may make you safer, they may prevent accidents and save lives, but they cost money and getting them put on is a hassle.
This winter, I’m going to join the legions of all-seasoners. We won’t be bullied. We’re here, our threads are bare and we’re not going anywhere – literally. You’ll find us spun out along the highway and stuck in snowdrifts. If you could call a tow truck, that would be really helpful.
Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy