Valley drivers without winter tires face fines

Frigid temperatures, long dark nights and heavy snowfall are characteristics that many Canadians associate with winter.

Frigid temperatures, long dark nights and heavy snowfall are characteristics that many Canadians associate with winter.

And with the snowy season approaching, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is reminding drivers that winter tires are required on many provincial highways, with a special focus on mountain passes and interior highways where the weather conditions can change from rain to snow quickly.

“It is mandatory for your vehicle to be equipped with tires that are specifically designed for winter driving,” said Cpl. Grant Simpson, noting the fine is $121.

“In B.C.’s climate, summer and all-season tires are simply no match for winter weather. Winter tires are particularly crucial for drivers who live in B.C.’s Interior, northern and mountainous regions and those who must drive through our large national parks.”

There will be signage clearly posted on the designated highways to advise drivers of the areas where winter tires are required in B.C. between October 1st and March 31st.

Walkers Auto Repair spokesperson James Jefferson has noticed an increase in tire sales, but believes many drivers have not planned for winter yet.

“People tend not to panic about their tires until their first sight of a heavy frost or first snowfall,” he explained, adding that people need to book a couple of days in advance to make the switch to winter tires. “People need to give us a couple days, which is mainly because we have to order the tires in.”

In addition, there will be maps showing which roads require winter tires on the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure website (http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/driving-and-cycling/driving/traveller-information/seasonal/winter-driving) as a result of the technical analysis completed during the Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review. Winter tires have been labelled with either the winter mountain and snowflake symbol or with the mud and snow (M+S) designation.

“Winter tires feature specially designed tread patterns that provide more surface area to contact the road and provide superior grip,” said Simpson.

It is required that winter tires must have a minimum tread depth of 3.5 milliemetres to be considered in good condition.

“Tires are the way a vehicle interacts with the road,” said Simpson. “Even the latest high-tech safety systems, from advanced all-wheel drive to stability control, or even four-wheel drive, will be rendered useless if your car has no grip. When the road is icy, or covered with slippery snow, you need a tire that can deal with those situations.”

Lastly, there is a new Shift into Winter campaign being offered through the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and its safety partners that is geared toward preparing drivers for driving in winter conditions. Visit http://shiftintowinter.ca.

To view the requirements for winter tires this season, visit http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/driving-and-cycling/driving/traveller-information/seasonal/winter-driving/winter-tires-and-chains/about-winter-tires. To check the latest updates for driving conditions, visit http://drivebc.ca.

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