In winter months throughout B.C., driving conditions on wet, icy or snowy roads can be treacherous. While B.C. has seen a 22 per cent increase in hospitalizations due to injury over the past four years, it may be little wonder that motor vehicle collisions (excluding motorcycles and bicycles) are the second most common cause of admission to hospital for injury in B.C., with over 1,400 people admitted to hospital annually.
“38 per cent of those hospitalizations are for major injuries, and most are preventable,” says Micheline Wiebe, provincial clinical director, Trauma Services BC.
One way of staying safer on B.C. roads in winter months is to install winter tires on your vehicle.
In fact, B.C. law requires winter tires – with the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol or with the M+S (mud and snow) symbol – on most highways between October 1 and April 30. Going without proper winter tires on designated B.C. highways can cost you a fine of $109.
The braking distance of a winter tire can be up to two vehicle lengths shorter than an all-season tire at 24 km/h in both wet and dry conditions.
How is that possible? Winter tires are made of rubber that stays softer in the cold, with treads designed to grip ice and snow, whereas the rubber in all-season tires starts to harden when the temperature drops below 7°C. The harder it gets, the less traction tires have. The Traffic Injury Research Foundation provides a compelling analogy: winter tires deliver better traction on an ice or snow-covered road surface at -30°C vs. all-season tires at 4°C.
The 2018 Winter Tire Report by Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC) shows that 38 per cent of B.C. drivers used winter tires in 2014. By 2018, that number jumped to 64 per cent, as drivers are gaining a better understanding of the superior cold weather performance provided by winter tires.
The same TRAC report shows that 80 per cent of winter tire owners believe driving a vehicle equipped with winter tires has saved them from being involved in a potentially hazardous driving situation such as loss of control or a collision.
Along with preventing collisions, injuries and fatalities, the increased road safety provided by winter tires extends to benefits in other areas, including:
- reducing health and hospital emergency costs
- reducing the number of police and ambulance emergency responses during winter
Trauma Services BC wishes everyone a happy and safe holiday season. If you’re planning to travel on certain highways in B.C., including the North, the Interior, the Sea to Sky Highway on the South Coast and the Malahat on Vancouver Island, ensure your vehicle is equipped with winter tires.
Trauma Services BC’s vision is that through injury care, control and prevention, the residents of British Columbia will enjoy the lowest burden of injury in North America. Learn more at
For more information on winter tires and the full 2018 Canadian Consumer Winter Tire Report, visit tracanada.ca/
For a province wide map of highways designated for winter tires, visit: