Why Winter Tires Improves Road Safety

Winter doesn’t officially start until December 21, but the cold, snowy weather has already arrived in Ontario. As the province’s car accident lawyers know, winter driving conditions mean an increase in accidents, injuries, and fatalities. However, there are things you can do to keep yourself, your family, and fellow motorists safe this season, such as installing winter tires.

Earlier this month, the Province of Ontario decided against making winter tires mandatory. Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Lee Alderson provided the following explanation to Driving.ca:

“After careful consideration, winter tire use remains at the discretion of Ontario’s vehicle owners due to effective snow-clearing operations and the fact that not all vehicles need to be operated every day under winter weather conditions,” Alderson said. “The additional cost of two sets of tires, their interchange twice yearly, storage requirements and the impact on the environment are all factors that have influenced our decision to not require winter tire use on vehicles.”

In contrast, the Province of Quebec mandates winter tire use between December 1 and March 15. Drivers that fail to meet this requirement face fines of up to $300.

What Do Winter Tires Do?

Quebec has mandated winter tires because they are an extremely effective safe driving tool in winter conditions. They are made with a different variety of rubber than both all-weather and all-season tires and have wider grooves and different tread patterns. The goal is to improve traction while driving, braking, and turning on icy, snowy, and slushy roads.

The primary difference between winter tires and generic tires is the rubber with which they’re made. Most tires harden when exposed to low temperatures; the rubber in winter tires remains flexible even in extreme cold, which provides more control of your vehicle.

The grooves and treads are also important. The wider grooves improve traction, while the treads push water away from the tire, ensuring your vehicle stays in contact with the road.

All that technology translates into shorter stopping distances and more controlled maneuvering.

“Depending on the speed and the weather conditions, winter tires can actually reduce your breaking distance by up to 25 per cent or two vehicle lengths compared to all-season tires,” said Raymond Chan of CAA South Central Ontario to Driving.ca. “That right there, I think, says a lot – that if you have winters installed, it’s actually a lot safer.”

When Should You Install Your Winter Tires?

The rule of thumb is to install your winter tires before the bad weather hits. The Quebec dates are a fair guideline, but some car accident lawyers recommend a more conservative approach: install your winter tires as soon as the temperature dips below 7° and keep them on until it rises above 7°. For most Ontarians, that means keeping your winter tires on from sometime in October or November to sometime in March or April.

Please note: It is against the law in Ontario to drive with a mismatched set of winter tires. Your tires must be a complete set, installed at the same time.

What Can’t Winter Tires Do?

Although winter tires are an important road safety tool, they are no substitute for safe driving. This point was emphasized by both the Ministry of Transportation and the CAA in their interviews with Driving.ca.

“Winter tires aren’t the substitute for safe driving,” said Raymond Chan. “But when combining that together with safe driving practices, winter tires really offer the best defence against those harsh winter conditions.”

“Proper use of winter tires is only one aspect of safe winter driving,” said Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Lee Alderson. “Many other aspects are important, including overall vehicle preparedness and defensive driving techniques.”

The car accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP are proponents of installing winter tires if you drive regularly during the winter in Ontario. Our team also believes that safe, defensive driving practices are your best bet for arriving safely at your destination. During the holiday season, safe driving practices are more important than ever.

Contact Will Davidson LLP If You’ve Been Hurt

If you or a member of your family has been injured in an automotive accident, contact Will Davidson LLP to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team of car accident lawyers has decades of experience representing seriously injured Ontarians, and has the expertise to help you secure the financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. Reach out today to learn how we can help.

Image: Shutterstock


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