Canadian drivers are increasingly aware of benefits of winter tires but nearly a third still are still unsure, a recent survey says.
Seventy-nine per cent of Canadian motorists believe driving a vehicle equipped with winter tires has saved them from a road accident or injury, according to a new Leger survey commissioned by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC).
TRAC’s 2021 Canadian Consumer Winter Tire Study also found that outside Quebec, where winter tires are mandated by law, winter tire usage stands at 69 per cent, up from 65 per cent last year.
Seven per cent of drivers outside Quebec say this winter driving season will be their first using winter tires.
“The findings of this year’s winter tire study are great news for wintertime road safety,” says Carol Hochu, president and CEO of TRAC.
“Our survey found most Canadian drivers have deep understanding of the superior handling and stopping power of winter tires. Two-thirds of drivers riding on winter tires cite protecting their family as their top reason for investing in winter tires. Winter tire laws, lower auto insurance premiums and fuel economy were other common motivators.
“The not-so-good news is nearly a third of motorists outside Quebec who choose not to use winter tires still do not understand that the superior traction and stopping power of winter tires is essential for safe winter driving. Consumer education is very much needed to encourage a higher level of winter tire adoption.”
The biggest reasons for not using winter tires are the belief that all-season tires are good enough (59 per cent), cost (28 per cent) and reduced driving in winter (21 per cent).
- 57 per cent of British Columbia drivers use winter tires
- Alberta’s usage rate is 68 per cent
- In Manitoba and Saskatchewan usage stands at 50 per cent
- 73 per cent of Ontario drivers now use winter tires
- In Atlantic Canada winter tire usage stands at 92 per cent
The pandemic’s influence on winter driving has lessened, but remains significant:
- 37 per cent of Canadian drivers say COVID will continue to restrict their wintertime driving (TRAC’s 2020 Winter Tire Study found 65 per cent of drivers drove less in winter because of the pandemic).
- Among drivers 55 years of age and over, half plan to limit their winter driving due to COVID.
- 26 per cent intend to return to pre-COVID levels
Rely on the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol (3PMS)
Motorists have a broad range of options for winter driving. TRAC recommends winter tire shoppers rely on the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol (3PMS). Tires with this symbol meet or exceed government and industry snow traction standards.
Tire options for winter
Drivers have three choices for winter driving: all-season tires; all-season tires with the 3PMS symbol (often called “all-weather” tires) and dedicated winter tires designed exclusively for winter. Selecting the right tire can mean the difference between a surefooted winter motoring experience and a nervous drive.
Why dedicated winter tires are best
Driving on all-season tires in winter months results in longer stopping distances and compromised handling when temperatures fall below 7°C. All-season tires with 3PMS offer moderately better traction than other all-season tires. But they are designed for occasional, medium snowfalls and may not provide the grip needed for severe winter driving conditions common on Canadian roads. Dedicated winter tires feature softer tread compounds that retain their elasticity even in extremely cold temperatures. They provide superior traction and significantly shorter stopping distances in all winter driving conditions from icy, slushy, and snow-covered roads to cold, dry pavement. Dedicated winter tires are the best performers and are by far the safest choice.
All winter tires manufactured by TRAC member tire makers undergo thorough and sophisticated testing. The ASTM F-1805 Driving Traction Test is a rigorous, performance-based standard. Only tires with advanced designs, treads, and rubber compounds are able to meet and exceed this performance standard. Canadian federal regulation under Transport Canada mandates for all tires that carry the 3PMS symbol in Canada to pass this test.
A survey of 1,521 Canadians was completed online between October 1-3, 2021, using Leger’s online panel. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20.
About the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada
The Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC) is the national trade association representing tire makers, rubber products manufacturers and importers as well as rubber recyclers and suppliers of goods and services related to the industry. TRAC is committed to educating drivers about proper tire care and maintenance. A key advocacy goal is to raise awareness about the safety and performance benefits of winter tires.
A new report about winter tire use in Canada and a guide to tire options for winter driving is available here.