The message of the benefits of equipping vehicles with winter tires seems to be getting through.
The Tire and Rubber Association of Canada released its latest report that shows winter tires are on more than half of vehicles across the country, though numbers vary depending on the region.
Atlantic Canada has the highest usage of winter tires at 83 per cent. In Ontario and British Columbia, usage rates are at about 60 per cent. Alberta isn’t far behind at 57 per cent. Manitoba and Saskatchewan are at 47 per cent usage. In Quebec, winter tires are mandated by law.
Still, there is plenty of opportunity for the aftermarket.
“We see a steady improvement in consumer awareness of winter tires, with over 60 per cent of Canadian drivers choosing winter tires. That also means that we still have four out of 10 drivers to reach to make our roads that much safer,” said Glenn Maidment, president of the TRAC, in the report.
Of the 40 per cent of people who don’t have winter tires, more than half said all-season tires were “good enough” for winter use. Another 22 per cent said they don’t drive enough to merit its use and 21 per cent said cost was a barrier.
However, according to the group’s research, 22 per cent of respondents said they were considering buying winter tires this season.
Since Quebec has implemented mandatory winter tire usage in 2008, the province reported a 5-per-cent decrease of winter road collisions and a 3-per-cent drop in death and serious injuries.
The winter tire segment is the fastest-growing category of tires.
The growing popularity of winter tires makes them the fastest-growing tire category. Part of that is thanks to a push from government, industry and other stakeholders to promote the benefits. For example, B.C. has used highway signage to remind drivers about mandatory winter tire usage on certain routes; Ontario introduced legislation to lower insurance premiums for drivers who change their tires over; and Manitoba Public Insurance has seen 71,000 applications since it offered low-interest loans for winter tires in 2014.