Some very good questions came up about the winter-tire requirement being issued by the BC Government effective October 1. I don’t have all the answers (and I’ve looked in a lot of places), but I can provide you with the following links and bits of information I encountered in looking for answers to your questions.
I hope the following information is useful, though admittedly I still don’t know if I can drive to Duncan in plus 12 degrees Celsius with my existing all-seasonal tires. What I do know that I’m not about to spend $1,000 on four new snow tires to drive to Duncan once or twice this year.
The impression I have is that if weather is bad, there may be a road check; and if you don’t have the proper tires on at that time, you may be fined and told to turn around and go home. And, the impression I have is that they won’t be doing a tire check when it’s 12 degrees Celsius outside. But that is just a guess, not gospel.
Britt Santowski, SPN
The basics, from Ministry of Transportation
Check your tires for these signs:
|The mountain/snowflake symbol on the side of the tire
These winter tires offer the best traction on snow and ice, and in cold weather.
|The mud and snow symbol on the side of the tire
These winter tires offer better traction than summer tires, however, they are less effective than mountain/snowflake tires on snow and ice, and in cold weather.Also known as M/S, M&S, Mud and Snow.
|3.5 mm tread
Tires must have 3.5 mm of tread remaining to be considered winter tires. Tires that are worn have reduced traction and should not be used in winter weather.
Do I really need Winter Tires? From the RCMP
The answer is a resounding yes.
Here’s is why: Rubber tends to harden in cold weather thus reducing friction and stopping capability of the vehicle. The new generation winter tires maintain their elasticity and gripping power at lower temperatures (-35° C and below), whereas all season tires tend to stiffen and lose gripping power around 0° C. The improved gripping power at lower temperatures translates to shorter stopping distances and better vehicle cornering and control. That could be the difference between a safe stop and a fender bender or worse.
What does M+S Mean? From DriveSmart BC
If you are like most tire buyers, my guess is that you choose an all season tire based on the manufacturer’s mileage durability claims. This means a rubber compound that stays hard and does a poorer job of sticking to compact snow and ice.
Tires with the mountain and snowflake design are rated for their ability to provide traction in winter conditions where the temperature is below 7 C. Think of them as low temperature tires and choose them over all season tires when you drive in BC’s winter road environment.
Fines From the Globe and Mail
Fines for not having snow tires are $121 and for improper tread depth $109.
Insurance From ICBC
Q: Will driving without winter tires void my insurance?
A: No. Driving without winter tires will not void your insurance if you have a claim. It also won’t mean you’re automatically at-fault in a crash. However, if you get in a crash where winter tires could have helped, not having them may affect whether—or how much—you are at fault.
[sam id=”15″ codes=”true”]Enforcement, from BC Government
Respect local bylaws: B.C. cities and municipalities may have their own bylaws around the use of winter tires, chains or studded tires that may differ from provincial highway regulations.
Motorcycle Drivers, from BC Government
Winter tires are not available for most motorcycles and so are not required. Motorcyclists should use common sense when deciding whether to drive on B.C. highways between October 1 and March 3. Police may turn all vehicles around, including motorcycles, if they think conditions are unsafe.
Geography From BC Government (see original pdf for the image below; more maps here)
A video for your viewing pleasure
An older article From TransBC, (2014)[sam id=”15″ codes=”true”]There are six things you need to know now.
- What’s Recommended?
The RCMP and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure agree that for winter driving conditions a tire with a mountain/snowflake symbol is the best choice. We encourage passenger vehicle drivers to choose the best tires possible, and to ensure the tires are in good condition, with good treads, and by that we mean tires having a minimum tread depth of 3.5 mm.
- What’s Legal?
The legislation as written accommodates M+S tires. B.C. RCMP will continue with past practice of allowing either tires with a mountain/snowflake symbol or a mud and snow designation on highways where winter tires are required, as long as they are in good condition, with good treads (worth repeating). Meanwhile, commercial vehicles greater than 27,000 GVW must carry chains along these routes, but trucks between 5,500 kg and 27,000 kg GVW may use M+S or mountain/snowflake tires in lieu of chains, if available.
- Where Must I Have Winter Tires?
We are only talking about the highways where the signage is – on the mountain passes in B.C. and in areas subject to winter conditions including the interior and north. We are not talking about drivers in the city limits. A maps of the designated highways where motorists must have winter tires or chains are available for the Northern, Southern Interior, and South Coast regions.
- What if the Weather is Really Bad?
In severe winter weather, police officers may turn vehicles around, regardless of the type of winter tire they are using, if they feel the tires are unsafe for the conditions and may be putting the driver at risk.
- Where Do I Get More Information About Winter Tires?
Contact your tire manufacturer or local tire shop to discuss your tire needs and the best choice for safe winter driving.
- Does this Affect Everyone?
Since more than 60 per cent of all B.C. drivers travel the province in places where snow rarely falls, the ministry does not require all drivers to equip their vehicles with winter tires. The new Winter Tires and Chains website will help you determine your specific needs based on what and where you drive. – See more here.