After a warmer-than-average start to Autumn, southern Albertans are preparing for winter driving conditions following the first snowfall in the area earlier this week.
Lethbridge’s tire shops have been feeling the impact, as customers rush to get their all-season tires replaced with the appropriate winter tires.
“We have been seeing upwards of 40 to 50 appointments for each day, for about the next week,” said Kal Tire manager Corry Penton.
“Waiting for the first snowfall isn’t really advisable because of course everyone is waiting that long.”
Penton adds around 15 per cent of Albertans didn’t swap tires in the spring, meaning they’ve worn out their winter tires in the wrong conditions.
“A lot of people kept their winter tires on right through the summer, just due to COVID-19. Getting them taken off was quite difficult,” he said. “They will wear down dramatically faster than they otherwise would.”
For those who would rather keep one set of tires instead of spending money on both, Penton says the best option is to purchase all-weather tires.
“You can really feel the difference when you’re driving on the road and have a winter tire on — you are safe.”
Del Delaney, driving instructor and co-owner of Drivers Edge, will be putting winter tires onto the company’s nine cars this weekend. He says although the proper changes should be made to vehicles at this time of year, making changes to your habits is also vital.
“As the seasons change, people’s driving habits don’t tend to change as quickly as the road conditions do,” Delaney explained. “People are driving too fast for the actual conditions, they’re braking too late and they’re not looking far enough ahead.”
According to the Alberta Motor Association, winter tires stop nearly 15 metres sooner than regular tires, but that 31 per cent of collisions are caused by following too closely.
“You want to give yourself a larger following distance,” Delaney said. “That’s going to give you more reaction time.”
Other tips for safe winter driving include carrying an emergency kit, thoroughly cleaning your vehicle of snow and ice before driving, and keeping gas tank levels above half.