TRAC Reveals 65% of Drivers Use Winter Tires

TRAC’s 2020 Canadian Consumer Winter Tire Study found that outside Quebec, winter tire usage stands at 65 percent. Photo:

Eighty-one percent of winter tire owners believe driving a vehicle equipped with winter tires has saved them from loss of control or a collision, according to a new Leger survey commissioned by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC).

TRAC’s 2020 Canadian Consumer Winter Tire Study also found that outside Quebec, where winter tires are mandated by law, winter tire usage stands at 65 percent.

The most common reasons why 35 percent of drivers outside Quebec do not use winter tires are the belief that all-season tires are good enough (65 percent), reduced driving in winter (30 percent) and cost (27 percent).

Regionally, the 2020 study found:
  • 60 percent of British Columbia drivers use winter tires
  • Alberta’s usage rate is 59 percent
  • In Manitoba and Saskatchewan usage stands at 60 percent
  • 66 percent of Ontario drivers now use winter tires
  • In Atlantic Canada winter tire usage stands at 84 percent
TRAC has just released a report about winter tire use in Canada and a consumer guide to tire options for winter driving.
Influence of COVID-19

The survey also examined how COVID-19 influenced driving habits and seasonal tire changeover. It is no surprise that sixty-five percent of motorists surveyed reported driving significantly less because of the pandemic. The good news is that only six percent of drivers riding on winter tires avoided changing over to their summer tires because of coronavirus concerns. Nine-in-ten indicated that their spring tire changeover was not influenced by COVID-19.

Rely on the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol (3PMS)

Tire shopping for winter can be daunting because of the wide range of options available. Tire makers recommend consumers rely on the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol (3PMS). This symbol is recognized by Transport Canada. A tire can legally carry 3PMS on its sidewall only if the tire meets or exceeds government and industry snow traction standards.

Demystifying winter tires

Drivers have three basic choices for the winter driving season: all-season tires; all-season tires with the 3PMS symbol (often called “all-weather” tires) and dedicated winter tires designed only for use in winter. Selecting the right tire can mean the difference between a surefooted winter motoring experience and a nervous drive.

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 rigorous winter driving conditions. 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 perform best and are hands down the safest choice.

Rigorous testing

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.


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