MISSISSAUGA, Ontario—British Columbia's rules on winter tire use are inadequate to protect the province's drivers, the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada has warned Todd Stone, British Columbia's minister of transportation and infrastructure.
Currently, the province requires winter tires on high mountain passes between Oct. 1 and March 31 of each year, revised from Oct. 1 through April 30.
British Columbia's winter tire rules state that passenger cars, light trucks and campers must use tires on high mountain passes designated either with the mountain-and-snowflake symbol for winter tires, or with the M+S designation for mud-and-snow (all-season) tires. Heavier trucks must carry chains in the mountains.
But British Columbia errs in assuming that M+S tires will perform as well as dedicated winter tires in severe weather, TRAC President Glenn Maidment said in an open letter to Stone. The letter was published in TRAC's e-Newsletter for September 2014.
Stone based British Columbia's winter tire rules on recommendations from the province's Rural Highway Safety & Speed Review Committee, but those recommendations were mistaken, according to Maidment.
“We feel this decision could seriously compromise driver safety,” Maidment said. “The Review Committee's recommendation is bound to lead to unnecessary road accidents as motorists attempt to scale severe snow condition roads on all-season tires only.”
British Columbia must change its winter tire rules and road signs to require winter tires only on mountain roads during severe weather periods, according to Maidment.
“Much research and development has gone into developing winter tires that significantly improve driver safety in winter months,” he said.
Meanwhile, as British Columbia decided to shorten its period for requiring winter tires, northern Ontario lengthened its studded tire season, according to the TRAC e-Newsletter.
Northern Ontario residents may now use studded tires between Sept. 1 and May 31, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation has ruled. Previously, studded tires could only be used between Oct. 1 and April 30.
The districts affected by the ministry's decision include Algoma, Cochrane, Kenora, Manitoulin, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Rainy River, Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Temiskaming, TRAC said. The Ministry of Transportation changed the period for studded tires on the recommendation of the Ontario Provincial Police, it said.