TORONTO—Only slightly more than half of Canadian drivers outside of Quebec use winter tires, according to a new survey commissioned by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada.
“The fact that so many drivers are not using winter tires is a clear threat to road safety,” said TRAC President Glenn Maidment.
The survey, conducted by Leger Marketing for TRAC, shows that winter usage in provinces outside of Quebec—where winter tire use is mandated—ranges from 38 percent in British Columbia to 73 percent in the Atlantic Provinces.
“Today's high-tech winter tires dramatically outperform all-season tires in all winter driving conditions,” Maidment said. “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.”
Other provinces and their usage rate are: Ontario, 56 percent; Alberta, 45 percent; and Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 39 percent each.
Many drivers cling to the idea that all-season tires offer sufficient traction and braking capabilities for winter driving, TRAC said.
Among those not using winter tires:
• 63 percent said that all-seasons are good enough for winter driving;
• 27 percent cited cost as a barrier for not using winter tires; and
• 22 percent said they don't drive enough in cold-weather months to merit winter tires.
A study released by the Quebec government in 2011 found that winter road-accident injuries had dropped by 5 percent 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 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.
TRAC said that monitoring tire pressure in winter months is particularly critical since tires can lose 1 psi for every 5°C drop in temperature. During the cold-weather months, TRAC advises, tire pressures should be measured at least once a month using a reliable tire gauge.
TRAC also cited the program from Manitoba Public Insurance that provides low-cost loans for the purchase and installation of qualifying winter tires as an example of how concerned some insurers are about the need to make roadways safer through greater use of winter tires.