Despite our harsh winters on the Canadian prairies, drivers here are less likely to switch the tires on their vehicle over the winter time compared to drivers in other regions of Canada. A survey conducted by Hankook in 2015 indicated that drivers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, at 58% usage, were among the least likely in Canada to use winter tires. Even British Columbia had 59% of drivers who indicated they used snow tires and 86% of drivers in Atlantic provinces following suit.
Winter tires are actually required in Quebec, and 97% of drivers surveyed indicated they comply with the requirement by installing snow tires during the winter. Ontario does not currently mandate the use of winter tires but does require insurers to provide a discount for drivers who have them.
Whether our lack of snow tire use in Manitoba and Saskatchewan is a case of a laid-back approach to winter or simply being unaware of the benefits, the advantages in reduced braking distances are clear. Comparisons in stopping distances between snow tires and all-seasons indicated a reduction of between 25% and 40% in stopping distances. Even if you drive a truck, SUV or all-wheel drive car that accelerates well in slippery conditions, when it comes to stopping to avoid an accident, the greatest factor in your braking distances is the performance of your tires.
It’s a little extra money up-front to buy winter tires but it may not be as much as you think when you factor in the miles that you’re not putting on your summer tires when you switch over. Also, consider the potential costs of paying a deductible for an at-fault accident or losing a discount on your insurance, not to mention your family's safety, the extra cost up-front just might be worth it.
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