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Survey Says Most Canadians Are Driving on Winter Tires

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A study conducted on behalf of the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC) shows Canadians have increased their usage of winter tires in the last two years, and almost doubled their use since 1998.

Outside Quebec, where winter tires are the law, 61% of Canadian drivers are using winter tires, the survey says. In 1998, before there was any legislation governing winter tire use, 35% of Canadians nationwide drove on winter tires, TRAC says.

“Drivers adopting winter tires in record numbers is fabulous news because it means Canada’s roadways in winter are becoming significantly safer,” says Glenn Maidment, president of TRAC. “However, the fact that three-in-10 motorists still do not own winter tires poses a threat to all motorists. This is why outreach to educate drivers continues to be needed. Every motorist needs to know that today’s high-tech winter tires radically outperform all-seasons in all cold-weather driving conditions and offer potentially life-saving benefits.”

The latest study groups responses into six geographic regions, and shows nearly double-digit increases in five of those regions. The sixth region represents Quebec, where winter tires are mandatory on all passenger cars.

Province/Region Utilization in 2016 Utilization in 2014
Atlantic Canada 81% 73%
Ontario 65% 56%
Manitoba/Saskatchewan 50% 39%
Alberta 55% 45%
British Columbia 49% 38%

“These numbers point to a significant improvement in consumer understanding of the importance of winter tires as a safety feature,” says Jack Smith, president of the Canada Safety Council. “It’s rewarding to know that the educational work done by road safety groups is paying off. We are glad to see that Canadians are attuned to the message.”

TRAC indicated some of the improvement has come after varying initiatives in Canada’s provinces. British Columbia updated its signage on certain mountainous highways indicating the need for winter tires. The province also publicized a “Shift into Winter” initiative to remind drivers of winter safety messages. In Manitoba there are low-interest loans available to help with the purchase and installation of winter tires. In 2016 Ontario required all insurance providers to reduce auto insurance premiums to drivers who have four winter tires installed on their vehicles.

Since Quebec mandated the use of winter tires bearing the three-peak-mountain snowflake symbol in 2008, a separate study by the provincial government (released in 2011) showed a 5% drop in injuries due to winter road accidents, and a 3% drop in deaths and serious injuries. Winter tires are required in Quebec from Dec. 15 to March 15 annually.

The TRAC survey also revealed 36% of the 1,518 respondents were considering purchasing winter tires. Of those who don’t own winter tires,

  • 48% said they thought all-season tires were “good enough” for winter driving;
  • 23% said the cost was prohibitive;
  • 21% said they don’t drive enough in cold-weather months to warrant winter tires; and
  • 8% gave other reasons.

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