Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What if? #2 - Tires

The second in a series of “what if I’m right” ideas. These are simply observations, not holy writ.

Our beloved provincial government has our best interest at heart. They look out for our safety, or do they?

Late last year, a new law came into effect with regards to installing winter tires on all cars in registered in Quebec.

In theory this is a good idea, as I believe in winter tires and have installed them on all the cars I’ve ever owned.

Just as an aside, the first cluster-fuck with the new law is that until very, very recently, the government hadn’t defined what a winter tire was exactly.

The second enraging thing is that eventually, all winter tires will actually be ice tires. I’ve owned both front-drive and rear-propulsion cars, and 4x4 S.U.V.’s of course. While ice tires certainly have value on glare ice, (be it blue or black) on a rear-drive car, they are, for all intents and purposes useless on any kind of packed or loose snow. They actually become downright dangerous in deep snow.

A rear-drive car requires a good amount of displacement tread on the ass-end to even get anywhere, and to limit fishtailing. A 4x4 can make do a little better, but not by much. So I’ve always put M+S tires on my own SUVs and rear-drive cars. They are the ideal solution. As far as ice – I elect to stay home if I can anyway. I’ve always put ice tires on the wife’s vehicles though, inasmuch as this is what she is most uncomfortable with.

However, in its awesome wisdom, the gubmint has decreed that M+S tires will no longer be lawful come 2015. I suspect there won’t be any rear-drive cars left by then, nor I surmise SUV worthy of the name, so it shouldn’t matter I guess.

Back to the law, the intent was allegedly to reduce the number of accidents on our roads, and blah, blah, since 4-season tires were over-represented in crash cases, etc.

I will make a small foray into statistics for a minute, much as I may despise doing so.

They proudly announce that 38% of crashes involved one of both vehicles shod with 4-season tires. This is the over-representation. According to the other stat below, it should really be like 10%... or so. And besides, the 38% is already debateable. What if the other half of the vehicles involved in the crashes were shod with winter tires? And how many were accidents involving out of province vehicles which would not be covered by the new law anyway? Skews that particular perspective a tad now doesn’t it?

Now then, 90% of cars were on winter tires anyway. At this point I’m thinking “why bother?” for a lousy 10%, but I’ll go along with it.

Remember what I said about the gubmint not being forthcoming as to what constitutes a winter tire? So how the hell can they come up with 90% were presumably winter-tires if they don’t know what a winter tire is? They quote stats from 2005, whereas they established the regulation in September 2008! High confidence indeed.

All this is for naught.

In the news a couple of weeks ago, I hear it. Yes, indeed I do. I hear it loud as a Concorde on take-off and clear as day.

A community of a fair size in northern Québec has significantly reduced the abrasives used on the roads this winter to the glee of councillors at this cost cutting measure.

“It won’t affect safety…” the interviewee rambles on.

I’m thinking: but of course it won’t since everybody has winter tires now!

How so very, very convenient.


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