Vancouver’s mild climate means most people don’t install winter tires on their cars. Given the problems of last winter, City Hall thinks it might be time to change that. Council is considering a proposal to fine drivers who do not use winter tires in the colder months.
While the city’s political leaders mull over this idea, there are a few things you should know about winter driving.
In most parts of BC, winter tires are necessary. On some highways, signs indicate that winter tires or chains should be in use between October 1 and March 31. You’ve likely seen these along the Sea-to-Sky highway and the Coquahalla. Police can ticket you and send you back if you don’t have snow tires or chains.
Transport Canada regulations require winter tires to be specifically designed to grip the road at temperatures below 7°C. Your summer and even all season tires are not equipped to handle colder conditions.
If you do get into an accident where it is determined that winter tires could have helped, ICBC may consider you at fault for the crash. ICBC offers a helpful guide for selecting and storing winter tires.
And what about your all-season tires? Won’t they do? Not necessarily and the reason essentially comes down to science and design.
While all-season tires can handle many different road conditions, they are not all that good at handling the cold. The harder rubber in all-seasons gives them great durability, but when temperatures drop, the rubber gets even harder and starts to lose traction. The softer rubber in winter tires is much better at remaining flexible enough to grip cold, icy roads. The treads on both tires are also different, with winter tires being the best for pushing away slush, ice, and snow and getting a solid grip on the road surface.
With winter fast approaching and city council continuing to debate the issue, this is a good time to assess your driving needs. Think about the kind of driving you do, find out what kind of tires you use and need, and talk to a tire or automotive specialist today about installing winter tires on your car.