On certain roads winter tires are the law

 | February 17, 2013

icy roads While it’s not law that you must have winter tires on your car during the winter in B.C., driving with winter tires or chains is required on certain B.C. roads and highways. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has the power to designate that winter tires or chains be used on certain roads, which includes the highway between Heffley Creek and Sun Peaks, and the Coquihalla for instance.

“(Almost) all of the highways in the Southern Interior are designated winter highways, which means you have to carry chains or have a designated winter tire,” said Ingrid Brakop, road safety coordinator at ICBC.

RCMP Staff Sergeant Doug Aird confirmed that only certain winter tires are acceptable.

“All season tires with mud and snow (M&S) designation on the sidewall (or) a tire with the snowflake and mountain symbol (are adequate). For US residents coming into Canada, their tire may only state M&S or just a snowflake,” Aird confirmed.

Drivers can recognize designated roads by signs and if a driver’s caught without winter tires on a designed road, the RCMP and the Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE) unit have the power to fine them.

“The fine can be $121 and up to two points on your driver’s licence,” confirmed Brakop.

And driving without chains or appropriate tires can affect insurance claims if an accident occurs.

“If you don’t have a winter tire you’re not in breach of your insurance, it’s not a law like wearing your seatbelt. But you can be charged by the RCMP if you’re in a collision if you don’t have the appropriate equipment on your vehicle,” Brakop said. Driving without winter tires or chains may affect the extent to which you may be at fault after an accident and could cause your insurance premium to go up.

“A tire is $120, if you get a good set they’re going to last you up to four or five seasons; it’s a pretty wise investment,” she added.

Alternatives to winter tires or chains are all season tires, however all season tires will lose traction at temperatures below 7 C. Brakop used the analogy of the flip flop (the all season tire) versus the winter boot (the winter tire) to describe the differences in their appropriateness.

According to ICBC, there are approximately 4,740 crashes on B.C.’s roads in December. On average 34 people are killed and 7,110 are injured from these crashes.

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