Tire and Rubber Association of Canada

Tire and Rubber Association of Canada

November 18, 2014 08:30 ET

Half of Drivers Outside Quebec Still Not on Winter Tires: Survey

Belief that all-seasons "are good enough" the most common reason for not using winter tires, despite proven safety and performance benefits

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 18, 2014) - Outside Quebec, where winter tire use is mandated by law, only 51 per cent of drivers use winter tires, according to a survey by Leger on behalf of the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC).

The survey asked drivers if they had used winter tires this past winter. Excluding Quebec, the poll found that winter tire usage is highest in Atlantic Canada (73 per cent) followed by Ontario (56 per cent), Alberta (45 per cent), Manitoba and Saskatchewan (39 per cent) and British Columbia (38 per cent).

Many drivers cling to the idea that all-season tires offer sufficient traction and braking capabilities for winter driving. Among those not using winter tires:

  • 63 per cent said that all-seasons are good enough for winter driving
  • 27 per cent cited cost as a barrier for not using winter tires
  • 22 per cent said they don't drive enough in cold-weather months to merit winter tires

"The fact that so many drivers are not using winter tires is a clear threat to road safety," says Glenn Maidment, president of the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC), which represents tire makers. "Today's high-tech winter tires dramatically outperform all-season tires in all winter driving conditions. Despite all the evidence pointing to the fact that winter tires decrease collisions and reduce personal injury accidents, resistance to adopting winter tires remains strong."

The Quebec experience

A study released by the Quebec government in 2011 found that winter road-accident injuries had dropped by five per cent in the province since winter tire use was made mandatory by law in 2008. This research revealed that universal winter tire use had resulted in 574 people not suffering an accident. The study also showed a three per cent reduction in deaths and serious injuries due to road accidents.

These findings are supported by a recent report from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) that concludes that winter tires provide superior traction, braking and cornering in all cold-weather driving conditions whether the road surface is dry, wet, icy or snow-covered.

Shorter stopping distances

Superior braking is one of the primary safety features of today's advanced technology winter tires. The TIRF report cites research which indicates that on dry pavement at temperatures just below freezing, stopping distances for vehicles with winter tires are as much as 30 per cent shorter than for vehicles with all-season tires. The report also concludes that winter tires deliver better traction on an ice or snow-covered road surface at -30°C than all-season tires at 4°C.

The TIRF report can be viewed, along with a wealth of other information about the performance benefits of winter tires by visiting www.tracanada.ca and clicking on "Resources" under the "Winter Tires" drop down menu.

Improved fuel economy

Drivers who do not opt for winter tires due to the cost need to be aware that using winter tires in the cold-weather months and summer tires throughout the rest of the year can reduce fuel consumption by as much as five per cent. (Source: TIRF report) The cost of winter tires is also tempered by prolonging the life of summer tires, which saves money over time. Some insurers also provide reduced premiums to drivers using winter tires.

An innovative program from Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) clearly illustrates how concerned some insurers are about the need to make roadways safer through greater use of winter tires. MPI recently announced that it would provide Manitoba drivers with low-cost loans for the purchase and installation of qualifying winter tires. Motorists seeking more information on this low-cost loan program can visit www.mpi.mb.ca.

Proper tire inflation

Drivers should pay particular attention to proper tire inflation during the winter months. Under-inflated tires have a smaller footprint, which weakens their grip. The result is diminished braking and handling characteristics, along with higher fuel consumption due to increased rolling resistance.

Tire pressures can fluctuate widely in winter, particularly when temperatures fall rapidly. Every five degree decrease in temperature results in a loss of about one psi in air pressure. A temperature drop of 15°C, for example, typically results in a 10 per cent loss of inflation.

During the cold-weather months, tire pressures should be measured at least once a month using a reliable tire gauge. If the tire is found to be under-inflated, the pressure should be adjusted to the vehicle manufacturer's recommended level. The right pressure can be found in the owner's manual or on the vehicle information placard normally located on one an inside door jam or inside the fuel door. As well, pressures should only be measured when the tires are cold and the vehicle has been stationary for at least two hours.

Methodology

A survey of 1,002 Canadian motorists was completed online between April 7 and April 11, 2014, using Leger's LegerWeb panel. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of ± 3.1 percentage points, 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 in the cold-weather months is to raise awareness about safe winter driving and the safety and performance benefits of winter tires.

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