CAMBRIDGE, Ontario — It may come as no surprise, but winter tire shipments across Canada have grown at an annualized rate of 4 percent over the past five years, making winter tires the fastest-growing tire category in the country, according to the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC).
TRAC said the growth of this category is due to efforts by tire makers, retailers and the government to educate drivers about the superior traction and shorter stopping distances provided by winter tires. Government incentives to make winter tires more affordable also have had a positive impact.
TRAC's 2017 Canadian Consumer Winter Tire Study, conducted by Leger, found that 66 percent of Canadian motorists drive on winter tires.
Outside Quebec, where winter tire use is law, the percentage drops to 60 percent.
For the approximately 40 percent of survey respondents not using winter tires, the top reasons were:
- the belief that all-season tires provide sufficient traction (51 percent);
- reduced driving in winter (22 percent); and
- cost (21 percent).
Regionally, the 2017 study found that 60 percent of British Columbia drivers use winter tires; 57 percent in Alberta; 48 percent in Manitoba and Saskatchewan; 59 percent of Ontario; and 83 percent in the Atlantic Provinces.
"Despite increasing winter tire usage, educating drivers about the safety benefits of winter tires remains critical to making our roads safer in winter," said Glenn Maidment, president of TRAC.
"The fact that four-in-10 motorists outside Quebec are not using winter tires puts at risk everyone who drives in cold-weather conditions — regardless of whether the road surface is dry, snow-covered or icy. Every motorist needs to understand winter tires radically outperform all-seasons in all cold-weather driving conditions."