Opinion

The Free Press Editorial

By law, everyone should have winter tires on their cars and trucks by now. In fact, they should have had them installed on October 1, over six weeks ago.

But, as everyone knows, people in the valley have their own timeframes, whether it’s meeting someone for coffee, buying tickets, or planning an event, everything is left until the last minute, if not later.

Maybe people are in denial that winter will come. Trust me, it is coming. It comes every year and there will be a lot of snow. That’s guaranteed.

Maybe it’s the expense. People are waiting until they can afford it. But if you change out your tires every spring and fall, they last longer. So it costs the same in the end. And anyway, this isn’t a new pair of skis or a trip to Vegas we’re talking about. Winter tires are not a luxury. They are a necessity. Every year there are accidents both in town and on the highways, some fatal. Proper tires grip the road better in icy conditions, making it less likely that you will lose control of the vehicle. It could save your life, or someone else’s.

Maybe it’s just because it doesn’t occur to people to change their tires until they wake up to two metres of snow on their driveways. But the idea is to have the tires on before this happens, so you can actually get out of your driveway.

But aside from all those excuses, it is the law to have winter tires on now. If you get stopped, you can be fined for not having proper tires installed.

And with the season comes other new driving realities. It’s time to slow down.

The RCMP engage in campaigns throughout the year designed to make us curtail our speed, because it’s been shown time and again that speeding causes accidents, and fatalities.

Needless to say that snow and ice rob our vehicles of what could arguably be the most important requirement — the ability to brake and stop quickly.

Four-wheel drive offers no help and can in fact, make matters worse. While 4x4s improve traction, they do nothing to improve stopping distances. Ironically, a four-wheel-drive car or truck might inadvertently give a driver a false sense of confidence while winter driving, something that again, will be quickly lost when the time comes to stop.

The fact is, drivers must make conscious choices to drive according to conditions, to slow down, to leave more time to reach destinations.

For those who are tempted to think winter driving is no different to summer driving, roll the window of your vehicle down all the way, as if it’s August. The sharp sting of cold across your face should remind you that winter is definitely here.

 

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