Ontario drivers have a love-hate relationship with snow tires – they love how they make winter driving so much safer yet they hate putting them on their cars, suggests a new survey commissioned for Centennial College’s School of Transportation.
Seventy-nine per cent of Ontarians who drive say snow tires create a safer winter driving experience, with 87% correctly understanding that even all-wheel-drive vehicles need them. But only 53% of drivers in the province install them on their own cars.
The usage rate of winter tires is similar between the sexes: 52% of men versus 55% of women. However, 47% of women say they get nervous and stressed about driving in the winter while only 28% of men admit they are uneasy driving in snow and ice.
Eastern Ontario drivers are the most likely to install winter tires, with 69% installing them each year, by far the highest rate and perhaps influenced by the fact neighbouring Quebec is the only province to legally require drivers use winter tires.
“The vast majority of Ontario drivers know they should use winter tires but only half do so,” says Stephen Leroux, Centennial College automotive professor. “This truly is a conundrum for all road users.”
Other survey results include:
* To avoid driving in snow, 43% stayed home from work or school, 38% cancelled a social engagement and 20% missed a medical appointment;
* 40% of male drivers strongly agree they are confident in their winter driving skills, compared with 16% of women;
* 42% of drivers whose personal income exceeds $100,000 a year are strongly confident in their driving skills;
* 44% of drivers 18 to 34 say winter driving makes them stressed, dropping to 31% for those 55-plus.
“In addition to installing four matching snow tires, Ontario drivers ought to have licensed mechanics ensure their cars are ready for winter,” says Leroux. “This is a small price to pay for potentially saving your life and the lives of your passengers, not to mention other motorists.”
Additional winter driving tips:
* Batteries older than four years should be replaced before the frigid cold weather arrives;
* Replace wiper blades after three years, top up washer fluid reservoir;
* Change engine coolant after five years to ensure the best heater performance;
* Pack an emergency kit, including food, and keep mobile phones charged.