Objective: The aim of the study was to compare the safety effects of studded and unstudded winter tires based on fatal road accidents. Methods: The data included 958 road accidents involving a passenger car or van that occurred in Finland from November to March between 1997 and 2012. Results: Comparing the proportions of winter tire type in accidents and in general traffic showed that the overall effect of tire type on the number of accidents was not significant, although studded tires reduced fatal accidents by 10–15%. Compared to unstudded tires, studded tires reduced accidents significantly only on bald ice in 2005–2012. Drivers using unstudded tires were more experienced and their profession was more frequently related to driving. In addition, the vehicle age was lower for vehicles with unstudded tires. On the other hand, the state of repair was less pertinent for unstudded than for studded tires. These confounding factors offset their effects to some degree. Conclusions: The risk of fatal road accidents in winter between studded and unstudded tires does not differ significantly. However, the accident risk has recently been substantially higher on bald ice for unstudded than for studded tires. The magnitude of this risk difference is difficult to determine without specific information on exposure by road surface.
- winter tyre