UPDATE According to ministry officials, in the Fort St. John area, the Alaska Highway, Heritage Highway 52, Rolla Road and Kelly Lake Road have the ‘use winter tires or carry chains beyond this point’ signs.
Winter has definitely hit northern B.C.
With temperatures well below freezing and more snow expected to fall in the Fort St. John area over the weekend, driving conditions are becoming less and less favourable.
However, some people might wonder if it’s really worthwhile to put winter tires on their vehicles instead of keeping their all season tires, especially considering the switch could cost several hundreds of dollars to purchase a new set of tires. So, the question is, is it really worth it?
Most provinces – including B.C. – do not have a law in place making winter tires mandatory. Yet, winter tires are required if drivers are operating their vehicles on certain roads in the province.
Winter tires or chains are necessary if someone is driving his or her vehicle on a road that has signs posted by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure that requires their usage, says Adam Grossman, a spokesperson for the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.
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The signs will typically say ‘Use Winter Tires or Carry Chains Beyond This Point October 1 – April 30’.
According to Jeff Knight, a Ministry spokesperson, those signs are generally located in areas where there is mountainous terrain.
However, Knight says there is no readily available list of provincial roads that have those signs.
One factor in deciding whether to make the switch to winter tires is insurance.
Grossman says not having winter tires can factor into someone’s insurance claim if the person was in an accident. He says each claim is assessed individually, but if it’s found that not having winter tires contributed to the crash, a driver can be found at fault.
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Grossman adds that insurance premiums can also be affected after having an at-fault accident.
Since there is no blanket law requiring winter tires in the province, deciding whether to get a whole other set of tires is up to each individual vehicle owner. Both time and money can be potential factors in the decision.
Yet, regardless of the choice, it is important to remember that driving in winter weather conditions in the north is considerably different than driving in summer weather conditions. Grossman says it is important to slow down and keep an even greater distance between vehicles during the winter than during the summer.