Even though temperatures haven’t started to drop below zero, starting today, drivers on most B.C. highways are required to have snow tires on their vehicles.
Between October 1st and March 31st, passenger vehicles must have winter tires installed on their vehicles for highway travel outside of the Lower Mainland. And, commercial vehicles must carry chains on these routes.
While it may feel a little early for these precautions be in place, road conditions on B.C. highways can change quickly and being proactive about these measures will help keep the roads safe for all of us.
What you need to know about these requirements:
Choosing Winter Tires
It’s important to know that all winter tires are not created equal. Acceptable winter tires must have:
Either the mountain and snowflake symbol or the M+S (mud and snow) symbol on the side of the tire
At least 3.5mm of tread on all four tires
Matching winter tires on the primary axle, as a minimum
Further information on selecting the right winter tires can be found here:
Additionally, keeping your tires inflated properly will help them to perform optimally, and, when not in use, storing your winter tires somewhere cool, dark, and dry will help to extend their lifespan.
Commercial vehicles must carry chains on designated highway routes. More importantly, you need to know how and when to use chains. To find out more about the regulations, you can check out this Guide to Chains and Other Traction Devices on The Ministry of Transportation’s website.
Slowing Down and Making Room
Common sense tells us that poor conditions means we should slow down and leave more space between our vehicle and the vehicles around us. But, did you know that this is actually the law? Speed limits are posted for ideal road conditions, so if conditions aren't ideal, you need to slow down.
Checking Routes & Road Conditions
In addition to making sure your vehicle is equipped with proper winter tires, it’s recommended that you check road conditions for your planned route ahead of time. In B.C., DriveBC provides up-to-date information, highway cameras, and route planning tools.
If you’re unsure of which routes require winter tires and chains, you can find maps and lists of routes on the Ministry of Transportation’s website.
Complying with these laws will not only help you avoid a hefty fine, and keep you safe this winter.
What happens if you don’t follow these rules?
It’s a common misconception that if you are in an accident in the winter and your vehicle isn’t equipped with winter tires, that ICBC will void your insurance. This isn’t necessarily the case. As stated on ICBC’s website,
“Driving without winter tires will not void your insurance if you have a claim. It also won't mean you're automatically at-fault in a crash. However, if you get in a crash where winter tires could have helped, not having them may affect whether — or how much — you are at fault.”
If you have been injured in an accident and you’re unsure about how winter tires and driving might affect your claim, you can get in touch with one of our lawyers for a free consultation.
At the end of the day, the rules are in place to ensure the safety of everyone on the road.
So, maybe today is a good day to head to the garage and check the tread on your winter tires or call your local garage to schedule your tire change over. Winter is just around the corner, even if it feels like summer just left.