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.

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Winter driving presents challenges for BC drivers including slippery roads, limited visibility, and subzero temperatures. Here are some tips to keep you and your family safe this holiday season.

  1. Scrape snow and ice off your vehicle before driving. Frosty windows and snow falling from your roof will limit your visibility. Always remember to clear headlights and taillights before driving.
  2. Install winter tires on your vehicle. Even careful drivers are likely to lose control. According to The Weather Network, all-season tires start to harden and become less effective at 7°C while winter tires only begin to harden around -30°C.
  3. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle in case you become stranded on the road. Your emergency car kit should contain a first aid kit and food that won’t spoil such as energy bars, bottled water, blankets and clothing. Read our previous post for a complete list of items to include in your emergency car kit.
  4. Slow down while driving. Almost all winter vehicle accidents could be avoided if speed wasn’t a factor. Drive cautiously at a speed to match the conditions.
  5. Be ready to correct for a slide on slippery roads. If the rear end of your car slides during a turn, gently let off on the accelerator and turn your steering wheel in the direction of the slide.

With varying elements, winter driving can be unpredictable.  Based on an ICBC survey, seven out of 10 drivers admit to feeling less safe or more frustrated on the roads in  winter conditions. Over 24,000 crashes occur in January.

An accident can happen to anyone. According to driving.ca, experts recommend keeping an emergency kit in your vehicle no matter where you’re going in case you become stranded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The Government of Canada suggests a car kit should contain:

Other recommended items include jumper cables, a fire extinguisher, warning lights or road flares, sand, salt, antifreeze and windshield washer fluid in the trunk. If you do become stranded, use warning lights and road flares from your safety kit to make your car visible. Turning on your vehicle’s ceiling light rather than using hazard or headlights will also conserve more battery life.

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