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Ben’s Blog: Principles can get in the way of good decisions

Ben reflects on his recent decision to install winter tires
Winter tires provide enhanced traction in snowy and icy conditions. (Black Press Media file photo)

It is important to have principles. They act as a foundation for our worldview and affect the way we think and behave. People’s principles differ due to several factors with upbringing, education and religion being only a few.

But principles have a way of being inflexible, which can sometimes get in the way of reason and lead to misguided decisions. That recently happened to me.

I have two sets of tires for my vehicle, one set of all-weather tires and a set of winter tires. After moving to B.C., I was a little put off by the law requiring everyone to use winter tires between Oct. 1 and April 30.

My all-weather tires have the snowflake and mountain symbol, so although they are inferior to the winter tires, they are technically legal.

Being from Alberta, I have been driving in hazardous winter conditions since I was 14. Winter tires are not mandatory there and auto insurance is privatized.

Without sufficient evidence to support this idea, I believed that the winter tire mandate was not necessarily in the the interest of public safety, but linked to ICBC. Only two provinces require winter tires, and both have public auto insurance systems.

Seeing ICBC is a for-profit, monopolistic, Crown-run ‘financial dumpster fire,’ that charges unfair rates to people in rural communities, I viewed requiring winter tires was a way to save ICBC money.

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Making people pay for winter tires means that in theory there are fewer accidents, saving the company money in settlements and essentially downloading costs to the consumer.

At the very least, I thought people should have the freedom of choice to use winter tires, just like they should be able to choose who they buy insurance from. So, I chose not to install my winter tires and used my all-weather tires as a point of principle.

I am a good winter driver, and I made it through last winter just fine. That further reinforced the idea that the government was mandating something that I didn’t need.

Last winter, however, did not see as much packed snow and ice on the roads and was comparatively warmer than what we have seen so far this year.

It goes without saying, this winter has been far worse. There has been a considerable amount of snow in Terrace coupled with repeated Arctic outflows and cold temperatures. That has led to compact snow and ice, and the recent freezing rain caused truly treacherous driving conditions in the area.

Luckily, my parents and partner had been pressuring me to put on my winter tires this year, which I did. The tires have images of bears and huge snowflakes on the side. They work as good as they look, and I have had great traction in the worst conditions this year.

Even though my other tires were legal, the difference between the sets was night and day.

I don’t think that I would have gotten into an accident with my other tires, but I feel much safer on the road and know that my odds of hurting myself or other drivers has significantly decreased.

Looking back, I feel a little bit stupid that I let my principles (largely based on ideas that have little evidence to support them) stop me from doing something as simple as changing my tires — in effect putting myself and others at higher risk.

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