Even with spring on horizon, winter tires are needed to help keep Kootenay  drivers, passengers safe. How much longer should you use winter tires on your vehicle?

It’s a timely question for Kootenay drivers as spring approaches. The annual Shift into Winter campaign points out the answer is based on safety, not seasons.

“Winter tires provide better traction and stopping performance below 7C and on wet, snowy, and icy roads,” says Louise Yako, spokesperson for the 13th annual winter driving safety campaign. “Traction may be the difference between safely driving on roads and being involved in a serious crash.”

Winter tires or chains are required on most routes in BC from October 1 to April 30.

For select highways not located through mountain passes and/or high snowfall areas, tire and chain requirements end March 31. This includes Highway 5 (Coquihalla), Highway 3 (Crowsnest), Highway 20 (Chilcotin-Bella Coola), Highway 26 (Barkerville), and Highway 37 (Stewart–Cassiar), among others.

Some routes may be subject to both dates. Trans-Canada Highway 1, for example, has a March 31 requirement in some sections and an April 30 requirement in others.

Regulated highways are marked with signs and the BC government provides a map of highways designated for winter tires. Information is also listed on DriveBC.ca. Some BC roads don’t require winter tires. For those ones, drivers are encouraged to choose their tires based on the region and conditions in which they regularly drive.

Rain, slush, snow, or ice can make stopping your vehicle challenging as your tires have less traction on cold and slippery road surfaces. “For example, if you’re driving on a set of all-season M + S (Mud + Snow) tires on a rain-covered road at 80 km/h, you’ll need twice the distance to stop than you would when driving at 50 km/h.” Yako explains. “You need even longer stopping distances for snow- and ice-covered roads.”

Shift into Winter offers the following tips to help drivers stay safe at this time of year:

  • Know before you go. Before leaving, check DriveBC.ca for updated road and weather conditions.
  • Avoid driving when road and weather conditions are poor, if possible. If you have to drive when the weather is poor, make sure you and your vehicle are well prepared.
  • Use four matched winter tires with the three-peaked mountain/snowflake logo. Keep a winter driving emergency kit in your vehicle.
  • Prepare yourself by knowing how to drive for the conditions before you get behind the wheel. Even the most experienced drivers can’t predict how their or the other drivers’ vehicle will react in snow or on ice.
  • Follow safe work procedures if you drive for work, even if it’s only occasionally, and report any unsafe conditions to your supervisor.
  • Make sure, if you’re an employer with commercial vehicles, that drivers know when to carry chains and how to use them.

For more information visit ShiftIntoWinter.ca. The campaign is a joint provincial initiative supported by the Winter Driving Safety Alliance and managed by Road Safety at Work.