I think certain areas in North America, covering both the United States and Canada, should consider following some of the European countries that have made winter tires mandatory. Many car safety inventions have already become mandatory, such as seat belts, ABS-brakes, windshield wipers etc. The reason why they became mandatory is that they have helped save millions of lives. The same goes with winter tires. They have clearly improved winter driving safety in areas where harsh winter conditions are present.
Driving with summer tires in winter season is really dangerous. Their rubber compound is not made for low temperatures. When producing winter tires the rubber compound will be completely different, which ensures that the tires will be soft and flexible even in very low temperatures. When you use tires that are not designed for the conditions that you aim to drive in, you are not doing yourself any favor. The problem is that the tires, which are not designed for winter use, will become hard and inflexible. I tend to compare it to a hockey puck, which we all know has a purpose to glide well on ice.
When the tire is hard and inflexible, it can’t adapt to the road surface and you will lose the grip on slippery surfaces. You can’t expect to have good control over the car nor be able to get the car easily to stop, as the braking distance will be very long. It is dangerous to try to drive if the grip is poor and the car is difficult to control. A soft tire, on the other hand, allows the rubber to press into the road surface to create traction.
The only state in North America that requires winter tires – or snow tires as they are also known, is the province of Quebec. I think it should be mandatory to use tires that have been approved for winter use in the areas that experience harsh winter weather conditions and where temperatures are constantly below freezing.
If you live in an area that doesn’t have harsh winter weather, you may be able to manage with an all-weather tire that is approved for winter use. If you have harsh winters, it is recommended to change to winter tires that are either non-studded or studded. The studded tires provide excellent grip especially on ice, but they are not allowed to be used everywhere. On snow both studded and non-studded tires perform well. The key is that you somehow prepare yourself for winter, by having the correct tires.