car insurance: Winter Tire Safety

Winter tire symbolWinter tires may help you avoid an car insurance claim. Yet, Albertan’s are the slowestprovinceat putting winter tires on our cars. Statisticsshow that only 22% of Albertan’s use winter tires.

If you regularly encounter ice, unplowed snow, or slush, then you’re going to need winter tires (also known as “snow tires“). Winter tires will give you that extra traction, braking and handling you’ll need to confidently drive on snow and ice. They have specialized rubber compounds and tread designs to handle the cold temperatures. The tread remains flexible to prevent snow buildup and help with traction on ice. Tests that have been conducted on ice show that even at 15mph, vehicles equipped with winter tires stopped from 1/2 to a full car length shorter than identical vehicles on all season tires. Without winter tires you are more likely to fishtail on corners and spin out on that icy hill.

ABS (Anti-Lock Brake System), traction control, and vehicle dynamics control systems are limited by the grip the tires can provide. These are all safety features you don’t want to fail under emergency circumstances.

The very common misconception among SUVs and other 4WD vehicles’ drivers is that a 4 wheel drive vehicle provides them with the safety measures they need when driving on the ice. This deadly misconception has no grip on reality whatsoever. A 4WD vehicle will help you get started from a full stop and will slightly help you around corners, but will certainly not help you to stop or slow down the car any faster during winter months.

Usage of All Season Tires During Winter

All Season tiresare meant to be adequate in all weather. To be able to handle different types of weather, compromises have to be made. The tread design of an all season tire is not as aggressive as that of a winter tire and is also not as flexible in the cold. An all season tire’s tread will quickly get packed with snow and you lose traction.

Although all season tires are branded M&S (or M+S, which stands for Mud and Snow), this is only based on the void-to-rubber ratio of the tread design, where the severe snow rating is based on actual performance testing. If you expect you will have to drive in moderate to severe snow, you should purchase a set of winter tires. If you drive in a particularly wet climate or you only get a very small amount of snow, all season tires could be a good idea.

Severe Snow Tires Grading

On February 1, 1999 the Rubber Manufacturer’s Association (RMA) and the Rubber Association of Canada (RAC) introduced a winter tire grading.

These tires are specifically designed for severe snow conditions and meet snow traction performance requirements. Tires meeting this standard are marked with a symbol of a peaked mountain. The picture at the top right of this blog, is this symbol. This standard helps drivers choose a tire that will help make their winter driving safer.

Winter Tires Installation

A good guideline for installing your winter tires is once the temperature is regularly 10 degrees Celsius or less, and they should be removed once the temperatures are consistently higher than 10 degrees Celsius. This will ensure that they do not wear prematurely in warmer weather, but you shouldn’t get caught by surprise.

Winter Driving Tips

  • If you install winter tires, switch all four tires, not just two. Using just 2 winter tires can cause the car to spin unexpectedly because of greater traction on only two wheels.
  • When driving in rough winter conditions, be prepared and bring an emergency kit with the following items in it:jumpercables, tire chains, flaires, blankets, food, gloves,boots, a flashlight, a cell phone, a first aid kit, an ice scraper, and a towing cable.
  • Slow down, especially before corners and before going down hills.
  • When you first get on the roads, test your brakes and steering.
  • Watch out for black ice, as well as extra ice on bridges, overpasses, and intersections.
  • Don’t use cruise control in the winter.
  • Give yourself extra room to stop safely.
  • Check your local weather forecast before driving to prevent getting caught in undesirable conditions.
  • Handling a Skid: When your vehicle begins to skid, release the accelerator and gradually steer in the opposite direction that you’re skidding. Resist the temptation of using your brakes as this will cause you to skid more. If you overcorrect the skid, you’ll end up skidding in the other direction. If this happens, gradually steer back the other way.

When the rubber hit’s the road, play it smart and avoid a winter driving claim ~ use winter tires and be safe!


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