Is this officially the first weekend of winter driving? “Old Man Winter” showed his face with the first snowfall of the year and many areas are already reporting slippery conditions. And with the winter snowfall comes the realization that we are still driving on either summer or all-season tires.
How Important Are Winter Tires?
Some believe that because their tires are labeled All-Season, then they must be “good enough” to get you through the winter. Not so, says Ontario’s Ministry of Transport, which steadfastly says “All-Season” is NOT the same as “Winter” when it comes to tires.
One big reason is because All-Season tires lose their grip at -7 C and the tread is not deep enough to navigate deep snow. Winter tires have Mountain Logo which contains a snowflake on it.
The MTO also says that braking distance is reduced by 25% with Winter Tires over All-Season tires. According to both the MTO and OPP, people do not install their winter tires until the ground is totally covered with snow and that is not a good idea because temperatures drop suddenly and before the snow actually falls.
Speed is another factor that is not taken into consideration. Many people will continue to drive at the same speed as they do in June or July. J
And just because there is no snow on the ground do not think your All-Season tires are going to perform the same way. Cold reduces tread grip and reduced tread grip means handling of the vehicle becomes less stable. This contributes to you be in control of your vehicle. Tire manufacturers recommend all four tires be winter rated, not just the drive wheels as the control of the vehicle will be greatly affected by not having matching tires.
Did you know owning Winter Tires can save you money?
The Ontario Government made changes to the Ontario Insurance Act in 2016 and now it mandatory for insurance companies to issue discounts for having Winter Tires. Discounts vary from company to company but most are between 5% and 10%, so if your insurance is $1,000 a year, you can knock $100 off for the winter months. It is a way of promoting safe driving.
Safe driving is also another thing that should be practiced. Speed and giving space to the other drivers on the roads, especially oversized vehicle like tractor trailers. Many are the stories of huge accidents in areas like “Carnage Alley,” a stretch of the 401 that runs through the Chatham, Tilbury area. And just recently a huge pile-up on the 401 near Cookstown, Ontario, just south of Barrie, took lives and injured many. Recent evidence is now coming to light that it may have been because a car cut off a tractor-trailer in a construction zone. We all have places to be but is it worth being there at the cost of a life? No it is not. OPP are already stepping up road side inspections to watch for, not only impaired driving but for aggressive drive and the biggest problem on the roads, distracted driving.
So now is the time to be prepared, install your Winter Tires, have your emergency kit ready and in your trunk and slow down and take your time.
The place you want to be, will still be there when you get there.