There’s no other way to put it: winter driving in Canada can be a scary experience.
Most of us who are new to Canada will have driven on icy roads before, and will know what it’s like trying to cope when the temperature hovers around -1°C or -2°C.
But there’s a huge difference between that, and driving on a secluded highway at night, when it’s -25°C and there’s no cellular service. One wrong manoeuvre can be deadly.
So it’s with good reason that provinces have strict rules around winter driving in Canada. Here are some of the things all newcomers should keep in mind.
Winter tire advisories in BC, via Flickr.
Winter tires are compulsory in parts of British Columbia from October 1 to March 31, and in Quebec from December 15 to March 15, each year. While not compulsory in other provinces, they are still permitted, for example in Ontario from October 1 to April 30.
In BC, you’ll see signs like the one above on many highways, usually when approaching mountain passes at a high altitude and areas where conditions tend to change rapidly.
But even when they’re not compulsory, all provinces recommend switching to winter tires when the temperature falls below 7°C. Regular tires become hard and inflexible in colder weather, and so are less able to grip the ground. Winter tires have a bigger tread, and offer more control to drivers.
It’s important to remove them once the weather improves in the spring, however. This is because their softer rubber gets damaged more easily when the roads become warm.
And as always, you should make sure your tire pressure (including your spare tire) is at the appropriate level.