Get a grip - with winter tires

Road sign - slippery road ahead

Around this time every year, the same question is asked: Do I really need winter tires? The answer is a resounding yes.

This 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.  

How are winter tires identified?

Mountain with snowflake symbol and M + S

A winter tire will display one or both of the symbol(s) on the sidewalls. A mountain peak with a snowflake and/or M+S (Mud and Snow).

Tire tread

The law also says a winter tire must have no less than 3.5 mm of rubber tread on it. Tire tread readers are very cheap and available anywhere tires are sold. Take a few minutes to check the tread on your tires, since it could make the difference for you and your family.

Where will I find these signs?

Highway road signs: Cars and small trucks must use winter tires with M+S symbols. Oct 1-Apr 30 ,Vehicles under 11, 794 kg licensed GVW must use winter tires or carry chains October 1-April 30, Vehicles over 11,794 kg licensed GVW must carry tire chains

These regulatory signs (R047) are posted in various locations on numbered and un-numbered highways throughout the province.

When placed upon a highway, the sign will prohibit vehicles being driven or operated on a highway that are not equipped with M+S tires or a tire with the mountain and snowflake symbol. These signs are enforced by the police, ministry or other enforcement officials. 

Check out the Designated Winter Tire & Chain-up Routes in BC. (Note: the BC South Coast map includes Hwy 99 from the Lower Mainland towards Whistler.)

The law: What is a winter tire

Motor Vehicle Act Section 208

  1. For the purpose of this section, "winter tire" means a tire that is:
    1. advertised or represented by its manufacturer or a person in the business of selling tires to be a tire intended principally for winter use, and that provides, or is designed to provide, adequate traction in snow or mud; and
    2. in the condition respecting tread wear and other particulars the regulations prescribe.
  2. The minister responsible for the administration of the Transportation Act may, by public notice or by placing signs, prohibit vehicles from being driven or operated on a highway that are not equipped with chains, winter tires or sanding devices, or a combination of these the minister considers adequate and necessary in view of prevailing road conditions.
  3. For the purposes of a prosecution under this section, the onus is on the defendant to prove that a tire alleged not to be a winter tire is in fact a winter tire.

Safety message from the RCMP

Although M+S tires are permitted to travel on various highways throughout the province, the RCMP strongly recommends all motorists who plan to travel in snowy conditions to prepare their vehicle by installing snow rated tires.

Keep yourself, your vehicle occupants and other motorists safe this winter. Enjoy our beautiful province while knowing you have chosen the safest tires.

winter tire snowflake logoLook for this symbol when buying your winter tires!

Tips for safe winter driving:

Where can I find more information?

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