Winter tires the fastest growing tire category in Canada

Winter tire use is rising, but driver education about safety benefits needed for winter accident prevention

November 16, 2017
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Cambridge, ON—Winter tire shipments across Canada have grown at an annualized rate of four percent over the past five years, making winters the fastest growing tire category, according to the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC).

The growth of this category is due to efforts by tire makers, retailers and the government to educate drivers about the superior traction and shorter stopping distances provided by winter tires, the organization said. Government incentives to make winter tires more affordable have also had a positive impact.

TRAC’s 2017 Canadian Consumer Winter Tire Study, conducted by Leger, found that 66 percent of Canadian motorists ride on winter tires. But outside Quebec, where winter tires are the law, the percentage drops to 60 percent. For the approximately 40 percent of motorists found by the survey not to be using winter tires, the top reasons were the belief that all-season tires provide sufficient traction (51 percent), reduced driving in winter (22 percent) and cost (21 percent).

Regionally, the 2017 study found:

  • 60 percent of British Columbia drivers ride on winter tires;
  • Alberta’s usage rate is 57 percent;
  • In Manitoba and Saskatchewan usage stands at 48 percent;
  • 59 percent of Ontario drivers use winters; and
  • In Atlantic Canada, where winter tire usage is surpassed only by Quebec, the usage rate is 83 percent.

“Despite increasing winter tire usage, educating drivers about the safety benefits of winter tires remains critical to making our roads safer in winter,” says Glenn Maidment, president of TRAC. “The fact that four-in-ten motorists outside Quebec are not using winter tires puts at risk everyone who drives in cold-weather conditions—regardless of whether the road surface is dry, snow-covered or icy. Every motorist needs to understand winter tires radically outperform all-seasons in all cold-weather driving conditions.”

The superior traction and braking capabilities of winter tires are the result of advanced tire technology, particularly in tread design and rubber compounds, says TRAC. These advances have improved traction performance across all tire categories, but especially for winter tires.

The “soft” tread compounds in today’s winter tires retain their flexibility in extreme cold. At temperatures at or below 7C, winter tires provide better traction than all other types providing greater control on cold-weather road surfaces and shorter stopping distances.