Survey shows half of drivers outside Quebec still not on winter tires

Belief that all-seasons “are good enough” is the most common reason for not using winter tires

Belief that all-seasons “are good enough” the most common reason for not using winter tires, despite proven safety and performance benefits

Outside Quebec, where winter tire use is mandated by law, only 51 per cent of drivers use winter tires, according to a survey by Leger on behalf of the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC).

The survey asked drivers if they had used winter tires this past winter. Excluding Quebec, the poll found that winter tire usage is highest in Atlantic Canada (73 per cent) followed by Ontario (56 per cent), Alberta (45 per cent), Manitoba and Saskatchewan (39 per cent) and British Columbia (38 per cent).

Many drivers cling to the idea that all-season tires offer sufficient traction and braking capabilities for winter driving. Among those not using winter tires:

• 63 per cent said that all-seasons are good enough for winter driving

• 27 per cent cited cost as a barrier for not using winter tires

•  22 per cent said they don’t drive enough in cold-weather months to merit winter tires

“The fact that so many drivers are not using winter tires is a clear threat to road safety,” says Glenn Maidment, president of the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC), which represents tire makers. “Today’s high-tech winter tires dramatically outperform all-season tires in all winter driving conditions. Despite all the evidence pointing to the fact that winter tires decrease collisions and reduce personal injury accidents, resistance to adopting winter tires remains strong.”

A study released by the Quebec government in 2011 found that winter road-accident injuries had dropped by five per cent in the province since winter tire use was made mandatory by law in 2008. This research revealed that universal winter tire use had resulted in 574 people not suffering an accident. The study also showed a three per cent reduction in deaths and serious injuries due to road accidents.

These findings are supported by a recent report from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) that concludes that winter tires provide superior traction, braking and cornering in all cold-weather driving conditions whether the road surface is dry, wet, icy or snow-covered.

Superior braking is one of the primary safety features of today’s advanced technology winter tires. The TIRF report cites research which indicates that on dry pavement at temperatures just below freezing, stopping distances for vehicles with winter tires are as much as 30 per cent shorter than for vehicles with all-season tires. The report also concludes that winter tires deliver better traction on an ice or snow-covered road surface at -30°C than all-season tires at 4°C.

The TIRF report can be viewed, along with a wealth of other information about the performance benefits of winter tires by visiting and clicking on “Resources” under the “Winter Tires” drop down menu.