Oct 11

BC’s October 1 Winter Tire Law Prompts Drivers to Shift into Winter

Changing road and weather conditions increase risk of crashing

Fall’s arrival in BC brings the return of shorter days, cooler temperatures — and the law for winter tires on many provincial highways starting on October 1.

“Driving for work or pleasure can be dangerous, no matter how much experience you have,” says Trace Acres, Program Director for Road Safety at Work and spokesperson for the 15th annual Shift into Winter campaign. “Conditions can change quickly and you need to prepare now to help keep yourself and your passengers safe.”

The number of crashes caused by driving too fast for conditions doubles at this time of year in BC.

Winter tires can help reduce the risk. They provide better traction and stopping distances when temperatures drop below 7C. “They can’t help you if you don’t have them on your vehicle before poor weather arrives, though,” Acres says. “Waiting until rain, ice, or snow hits is too late.”

Designated highways require winter tires or chains from October 1 to March 31. The timeline extends to April 30 for select highways, including mountain passes and rural routes in high snowfall areas.

Tires displaying the 3-peaked mountain/snowflake symbol and M+S (mud and snow) tires both meet the legal requirement as long as they have least 3.5 mm of tread. Winter tires outperform M+S tires in cold and snowy conditions.

Driving needs to change

Even the best tires aren’t enough on their own. Drivers also need to make adjustments when behind the wheel.

“Even if you’re only on the road for a few minutes, you need to prepare for winter driving hazards,” Acres says. “When conditions are treacherous, it’s better to postpone your trip, if you can. Your family would rather have you safe at home than have you hurt in a crash.”

Some trips aren’t easily avoided. Many people drive while working, for example. They may travel to see clients, go between work sites, or make deliveries. In all cases, they’re at risk. Nearly 40% of all work-related crashes in BC resulting in injury and time off the job occur from November to February, according to WorkSafeBC statistics.

So when driving has to happen, what can drivers do to help keep themselves and their passengers safe?

Shift into Winter suggests the following tips:

Prepare your vehicle

Equip it with a set of 4 matched winter tires with the 3-peaked mountain/snowflake logo, and an emergency kit. Top up the anti-freeze and check tire pressure. Inspect brakes, lights, and engine belts. Use winter wiper blades. If you drive an EV, check the charge level before setting out. Batteries drain more quickly in cold weather.

Prepare yourself

Know before you go. Check DriveBC to see what you can expect on your route. Give yourself extra time to reach your destination and make sure your cell phone is fully charged. Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to arrive. Postpone travel if it’s not essential when conditions are poor.

Drive for the conditions

Slow down. Increase the distance between you and the vehicle ahead to at least 4 seconds. Accelerate and brake slowly. Make sure your lights are on.  If you start to skid, ease off the brake or accelerator and look and steer in the direction you want to go.

Ask your supervisor for winter driving training if you drive on the job

Employers are responsible for the safety of employees whenever they drive for any work-related reason, whether it’s full time, part time, or occasional.

Shift into Winter is managed by Road Safety at Work and supported by the Winter Driving Safety Alliance, a cross-section of public, private, and non-profit organizations committed to working together to improve safe winter driving behaviours and practices in BC.

For more tips on winter driving safety visit ShiftIntoWinter.ca.


The Hon. Harry Bains, Minister of Labour:

“Many people need to drive for their jobs even when winter road conditions become hazardous. The Shift into Winter campaign serves as a reminder to drivers about keeping themselves and their passengers safe. It is crucial to obey winter tire laws, prepare for bad weather, and postpone trips when weather conditions are too poor. By taking these simple actions, you will help prevent crashes, injuries and deaths.”

The Hon. Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure:

“Our maintenance contractors will be out in full force again this winter to keep our roads safe. Drivers can better ensure their own safety and the safety of others by preparing for the season by installing winter tires, watching weather forecasts, checking DriveBC, and driving safely — including making space for road maintenance equipment.”

About the Winter Driving Safety Alliance

The Winter Driving Safety Alliance is a cross-section of public, private, and non-profit organizations committed to working together to improve safe winter driving behaviours and practices in BC. Members are: Road Safety at Work; Ambulance Paramedics of BC; Automotive Retailers Association; BCAA; BC Forest Safety Council; BC Highway Patrol – RCMP; BC Road Builders & Heavy Construction Association; City of Kelowna; City of Vancouver; Concrete BC; CoreCode Safety and Compliance; Government of BC; Hansen’s Vehicle Relocation; Insurance Corporation of BC; Island Equipment Owners Association; Justice Institute of British Columbia; Kal Tire; Mainroad; SafetyDriven; Tiger Calcium; Tire and Rubber Association of Canada; Wilson M. Beck Insurance Group; and WorkSafeBC.

About Road Safety at Work

Road Safety at Work manages the Shift into Winter campaign as part of its mandate to help BC employers improve the safety of workers when they drive for work. It provides free tools and information for employers, supervisors, and drivers at RoadSafetyAtWork.ca.

Media contact

Gord Woodward, Communications manager Road Safety at Work 250-734-3652 [email protected]

Tire and Rubber Association of Canada

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