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winter driving

It's indisputable: Winter tires are better for your car and your driving at this time of year. So why are so many motorists driving without them? Plenty of people in Ontario clearly didn't during winter's first large regional snowfall on Sunday, and hundreds crashed because of it.

In fact, Ontario Provincial Police reported almost 500 collisions in the Greater Toronto Area in the first 24 hours since the start of the storm.

The Tire and Rubber Association of Canada says 65 per cent of Ontario drivers, and roughly half of all drivers west of Ontario, use winter tires, up about 10 per cent from two years ago. In Quebec, winter tires are mandatory in the cold season and in Atlantic Canada, more than 80 per cent of drivers use them.

Related: Are winter tires really worth it?

Related: The science behind winter tires and how they work

But good tires aren't the solution to everything, and probably all of this weekend's drivers who crashed in the snow were just driving too fast for the conditions, whatever their rubber. Even so, one-third of Ontario drivers and half of all Westerners still believe they have good reasons to not use them: They're too expensive, or you've nowhere to store the tires you're not using, or they're not really needed most of the time. These are nothing but lame excuses.

Canadian drivers have a responsibility to keep their vehicles as safe as possible, and as safe for other road users as possible. It's indisputable that winter tires grip the road better through snow and ice, so it's indisputable that you need them.

TOO EXPENSIVE: A full set of four winter tires will probably cost at least $500 for the least expensive choice, and can easily be twice that. A set of steel winter rims is another $100-$200, depending on size and whether you buy new or used. And a shop will charge $40 to swap and balance the tires, twice a year. These are not insignificant costs.

However, remember that when you're using your winter tires, your regular tires are in storage, and vice versa. Your tires will last six years, instead of three. The only real cost is for additional rims and labour – the rest is just an initial investment.

It's an investment that pays off with the first avoided accident. Your insurance probably has a deductible of $500 or even $1,000, not to mention the increased premiums if there's a claim. As well, in Ontario, drivers with winter tires now get an automatic discount on their insurance – it's the law.

NO STORAGE: Not everyone has a garage or shed with space for four tires, but there are plenty of places that do. Anywhere that sells or installs tires will offer you storage for your unused tires over the season.

Prices for this vary – it could be $100 a season, or it could be free. Your dealer would love to store your tires for you, because that way, you'll come back in the spring, and he also knows if and when you're selling your car. It's the best customer retention tool a dealer has. If your dealer doesn't have the space for tire storage, there are third-party companies like Tire Hotel that provide it.

RARELY NEED THEM: This is what those hundreds of drivers in southern Ontario thought this weekend, and hundreds in Alberta last month.

Whenever the temperature is below 7C, your car will stop better and hold the road better with winter tires. Just because the road is clear does not mean all-season tires are fine. Winter tires are softer and more flexible on a cold surface, and their rubber is scored with tiny "sipes" that work like suction cups on both tarmac and ice.

When the road is snow-covered, winter tires bite better through that snow to the road beneath because they're narrower, with more weight on each contact patch. Their tread also throws off the snow that clogs the tread of a regular tire.

Still think you don't need winter tires? You don't have any reasons for it, just excuses.