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New Brunswick government recommends winter tires but won’t make them mandatory


December 14, 2016   by Kevin Bissett - THE CANADIAN PRESS


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FREDERICTON – New Brunswick is resisting renewed calls to make snow tires mandatory, as provinces across the country take different legislative approaches to the annual slip and slide of winter driving.

Green Leader David Coon says, just like seatbelts, mandatory winter tires would make it safer for motorists.

“Everyone knows that if you have winter tires you have much more stopping capacity in the winter and are less likely to slide when the conditions aren’t optimal on the roads,” he said Tuesday.

But New Brunswick Public Safety Minister Denis Landry said while he encourages the use of winter tires, he has no plan to make their use mandatory.

“I’m always saying, if you drive in the snow, drive slow. You have to be careful when you’re driving. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be a good thing, but at the same time we’re not planning to make winter tires mandatory here in New Brunswick,” Landry said.

He said while winter tires are the law in Quebec, it didn’t stop buses, police cars and plows from sliding in videos that went viral on social media last week.

In Quebec, winter tires are mandatory between Dec. 15 and March 15, while British Columbia requires winter tires be used on certain mountain routes.

Ontario requires insurance companies to give a discount or benefit to drivers who use winter treads.

The Canadian Automobile Association recommends the use of winter tires across Canada, but won’t be calling on provincial governments to make it mandatory.

CAA spokeswoman, Kristine D’Arbelles, said it’s more important that motorists slow down and adjust their driving to weather and road conditions.

“Winter tires, on their own, are not a solution, and that’s why we’re not out there banging on every single door saying that they have to be law everywhere,” D’Arbelles said.

“We want to encourage drivers to use them as much as possible. Whether or not it needs to be law is still up for debate, and that’s why we leave that to the provincial governments. They know their territories much better than we do,” she said.

The Tire and Rubber Association of Canada says winter tires provide a better grip than other tires once it is below seven degrees Celsius.

It says winter tires should be considered as “cold weather tires” rather than just as “snow tires.”

RCMP Staff Sgt. Gilles Blinn, a Traffic Services unit veteran in New Brunswick, said his years of driving and responding to accidents tell him that using winter tires makes sense.

But like many others, Blinn said winter tires aren’t the only answer.

“If you have winter tires on your car and you exceed your driving capability and the speed you should be driving for the winter conditions, you’re going to have a crash,” he said.

Coon wants the New Brunswick government to start by requiring all rental vehicles to have winter tires. He said people who rent vehicles are too often unable to get a car with winter treads.

He said legislation is needed because too many motorists think all-season tires are enough for a Canadian winter.

“I think that all-season tires give people the sense that they’re covered, and it’s an economical way to cover both summer and winter driving, but it’s not the case. All-season tires don’t provide the kind of capacity that winter tires do,” he said.