It’s not officially winter just yet in Saskatchewan, but it’s safe to say winter driving conditions are already here.
A new study from the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada shows that Saskatchewan drivers are becoming better equipped to tackle the slippery, slushy streets.
“We’ve seen a big increase in the last three to four years of people using actual dedicated winter tires,” Jon Walker, the zone manager at Kal-Tire, said.
The Canadian Consumer Winter Tire study has found that 48 per cent of drivers in the province are using winter tires, up from 39 per cent in 2014.
Many drivers surveyed in the study say the main factor that held them back from installing winter tires was the price. But the local experts say winter tires are becoming more inexpensive.
“About a third of the people out there are saying it’s too expensive but they’re actually making such a range now of winter tires that the price has come way down,” Walker said.
“Sizing is very similar between vehicles and that’s driven the price down as well.”
“If you can prevent a collision because your tires are providing you with a bit more traction and control on the roads, you may find it worth the investment,” Tyler McMurchy, media relations manager for SGI, said.
Although the study’s findings are welcomed by SGI, they suggest a change in driving habits and behavior is just as important as a good set of winter tires.
“The most important thing is speed, you want to keep in mind those posted speed limits are for ideal driving conditions,” McMurchy said.
“Slow down, give yourself plenty of following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, we recommend at least four seconds, and leave in plenty of time so you don’t feel rushed.”
READ MORE: Are winter tires worth it?
Among the majority of drivers not using winter tires in the province, 53 per cent believe all-season tires are “good enough.”
But that may not be the case in Saskatchewan.
“At about seven degrees or less, your tread blocks start to freeze, so the tread is no longer pliable, and water can’t evacuate properly,” Walker said.
“They’re very dangerous, you’re barely getting any rubber to the ground and your tread blocks aren’t moving.”
However, there is a newer option for drivers who want to stick to one set of tires. The all-weather tire came out around 10 years ago, and is a winter tire that can be used throughout the year.
“They are a dedicated tire that you can run year round that are focused on the winter conditions that we experience here,” Walker said.
“If you only want to run with one tire, that is the only way to go, that is a much safer way to go, it is 30 to 50 per cent better in most conditions in testing.”
The national average of Canadian drivers using winter tires is 66 per cent. Outside of Quebec, where winter tires are the law, the national average drops to 60 per cent. According to SGI, a winter tire law is not being considered for Saskatchewan at this time.
“It’s something that would be difficult to enforce,” McMurchy said.
“We recognize also that there is a significant investment cost associated with it.”
Leger’s Legerweb surveyed 1,633 Canadian drivers in an online panel between Oct. 9-12. The results yield a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.