Getting a grip on tires
Re: Winter tires a 'con job' (Letters, Dec. 5). My family has been in the automotive and tire business since 1969. Gary Watkins' response to the shift in the industry is not uncommon. Tire technology has changed immeasurably in the past 40 years.
The rubber compounds in production today are complex blends varying in pliability and silicon content. Tire tread patterns have also advanced incredibly. Most cold-climate dwellers have discovered that some rubber-soled shoes become hard and slippery when worn in the winter and others maintain traction.
Tires are much the same. All-season and summer tires are intended for longer mileage life, hence the mileage rating provided with most of these tires. Winter tires typically don't come with mileage ratings, since they are only intended for temperatures of approximately -5 C and colder and manufacturers can't control the conditions under which the products are used.
I do agree with Watkins' statement that driver control is of upmost importance. But I suggest that the product speaks for itself if one takes the initiative to try it.
My job requires me to travel upwards of 25,000 kilometres a year on highways and city roads. I went back to snow tires 15 years ago.
The rubber compounds and treads are amazing in cold weather and allow me to accelerate and stop a lot more quickly and with more control than all-seasons. It's not uncommon to see cars trapped by a three-inch windrow and spinning their tires.
I'm thinking Gary Watkins would also consider Christmas a ploy by retailers to grab his money. If you want to be safe in winter, get the right tire and get a grip.
Are Manitobans too macho, lazy or, dare I say it, redneck to use winter tires? In all probability, the main cause is a brain freeze brought on by the harsh Prairie winters. Unfortunately, this brain freeze seems to include the provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, of all places (usually governments are full of hot air).
Here in Quebec, there was a huge uproar when winter tires became mandatory on all vehicles, but that has now changed to almost unanimous support. The significant decrease in deaths and serious injuries has led some groups to say the date should be moved forward to Dec. 1 from Dec. 15, since we have frost by then and possibly a snowstorm or two. In the last couple of years, some groups have begun to advocate for hefty fines for drivers who have an accident because of no winter tires, especially if the accident happens during morning or evening rush hours.
So, Manitobans, cover your heads with tuques and scarves, and when your brains begin to thaw, go buy your winter tires.
National testing labs have confirmed non-winter tire rubber compounds are like hockey pucks in weather colder than 6 C.
If we continue to make poor choices like this, we should not be upset when the government once again steps in to keep us safe. This happened in Quebec.
Not using your all-season tires for half the year simply makes them last longer, so there's really not much of an expense factor.
I've been installing winter tires on my car for the past dozen or so years and have been very appreciative of the additional control they give, particularly in cornering and braking.
You can imagine my surprise to read Gary Watkins' letter and find out it's all been a figment of my imagination, driven by marketing hype. Silly me.
Your Dec. 4 story Manitobans don't roll on winter tires states Quebec is the only province that makes winter tires mandatory. This is incorrect. Quebec law requires winter-rated tires that meet certain standards and markings to be acceptable.
My tires are all-weather, and they meet the stringent Quebec winter standard (your tires may too if they have a symbol of a mountain with a snowflake in it on the sidewall) and I can run these tires year round.
They are great tires by every possible measurement criterion. A proper all-weather tire (not "all-season") will be as good as a pure winter tire and has the benefit of not requiring a changeover in spring and fall. It also lasts longer without the added expense of two sets of tires.
I propose that Manitoba adopt measures to encourage higher winter-tire usage while allowing personal choice. I would not prefer to see mandatory regulation.
Since winter tires have proven benefits in snowy and icy conditions, I suggest that Autopac either give a small rebate to users of winter tires or they add a surcharge to all claimants who were not using winter tires, regardless of fault, between December and March.
We have always driven according to conditions. Even so, our so-called all-season radials did not prevent slipping, sliding and other winter headaches.
Four years ago, we purchased winter tires, and since then we have not experienced a single episode of losing control, skating into icy intersections or getting stuck in snow. Count us among the 20 per cent who are very pleased to have made this investment.
IAN M. CHALMERS
Waffling over guns
It sounds like Justin Trudeau will be trying to lead from behind the pack (Trudeau says no to gun registry... then yes, Dec. 4). He has a different message in every place he goes regarding the gun registry.
With all his flip-flopping, he might make a great pancake chef. Maybe he needs to actually think an issue through and come up with a conviction before he speaks. It might save him some embarrassment.