I think there's some miscommunication here.
WINTER TIRES are only used by a very small percent of the population (in 2008 that number was 3% of cars in America and about 34% in Canada according to Edmunds).
But in your original post John you stated that half of the people drive in the winter using SUMMER tires, and that's probably not true (i doubt half of the people driving cars in US/Canada even have summer tires at all).
Conclusion: Pretty much all of the US and most of Canada's rolling around on all seasons.
Personally, I'm on Summer tires in the winter, and these are the wheels that came default on my car from the dealership.
Do I think Winter tires would do better in the winter/cold? Absolutely.
Given the choice, would I rather use Winter tires than summer? Of course
But do I think that winter/all seasons are ABSOLUTELY necessary WHERE I live? Not really
Being in the middle of NYC, auto shop and wheel storage options are extremely limited. If I was out in the suburbs where there were a lot of affordable auto shops and I had a garage with lots of space, I'd definitely get a set of dedicated winters. But around here, I'd probably have to rent a slot at a storage center (to the tune of at least $100 a month), and then pay some local overpriced dealership to change the tires ($79/hr workshop fee, at least 1 hour charged for anything). That means I'm looking at $1000+ every year to maintain a set of winter tires.
In addition, it really SNOWS like twice a year here. Rest of the time at most we'll get a small flurry that turns to water as soon as it lands. When it does snow, all roads are immediately plowed and salted, so you'll pretty much never see snow on the road anyway. Worst comes to worst, if there was a blizzard (like the one two years ago), I'll leave my car at home and go rent a 4x4, or better yet not drive anywhere.
So yes, I'd be safer on dedicated winters, my summer ones will get hard even when it's not snowing in winter, etc etc. But taking into account all the factors that go into driving, going around NYC in summer tires now is pretty far down the list of things that could screw me over. I'm pretty sure that if every member here honestly asked themselves, they'd all be able to remember something they've done that's more dangerous (eating while driving, driving in a bad mood/after an argument, driving under time constraints (late for flight/meeting etc), answering phone while driving, driving without enough sleep, etc)
Last edited by Tsuyoi; 02-05-2013 at 02:39 PM.