Why Aren’t Winter Tires Mandatory In North America?

Winter Tires

It is strange that there are no stricter regulations for winter tires in North America when the evidence is so clear that it is a major safety contributor for any type of vehicle when you have winter conditions. Still, there is no law making it mandatory. 

The law can be such that it is mandatory that if there are winter conditions, you are required to have approved winter tires. This will at least make it up to each one if they want to drive during winter, then they need to change to winter tires if the conditions are such. 

A big challenge is that not all tires are made with winter in mind. All-season tires, for example, are made solely for summer conditions. It has been optimized for it, so the rubber compound used will get hard in cold temperatures. A hard tire is really not optimal, as you need the softness to create traction. This makes all-season tires very dangerous to drive within winter conditions. If you have SUV all-season tires, they might look like you can drive just fine during the summer, so people might not even think twice about jumping in and driving away.

If North America put more emphasis on this fact, the road accidents during wintertime would decrease drastically. Maybe the American tire lobby has emphasized not having any restrictions as it tends to be European tire manufacturers, especially Nordic ones that dominate the winter tire market. The Finnish tire manufacturer Nokian Tyres was the first to launch the winter tire back in the 1930-ies. Since then, they have been working on developing better and better tires. Today the winter tires or snow tires can be both studded and non-studded with great properties on all winter conditions. They have some of the best testing facilities and the most Northern testing facilities, enabling them to test under harsh conditions. 

The Nordic countries have certain months when it is mandatory to have winter tires mounted. If you are caught without having winter tires, you will be fined. For passing the driving exam, you will need to do a practice session in winter conditions. This is all done to prepare the Nordic drivers for the challenging conditions so that we are not causing danger on the roads. 

In North America, it looks like a lot of people are taken by surprise by winter conditions, and there tends to be a lot of accidents. If everyone had proper winter approved tires, they would at least have good traction. It is almost impossible to drive even for the most experienced drivers without proper tires, so the only solution is to make it mandatory for safety reasons. If you look at a car, it already has a lot of safety features, which have become mandatory; I hope that the winter tires are the next one made mandatory.

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David Yates