CAMBRIDGE, Ontario — Winter tire use across Canada outside of Quebec, where it's mandated, has plateaued at roughly 65%, new data published by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC) reveals.
TRAC — in partnership with Leger Marketing Inc., a Toronto-based market research firm —publishes a Winter Tire Report on Canada's winter tire usage trends every two years.
According to the latest data, winter tire usage outside of Quebec varies from 59% in Alberta to 84% in the Atlantic Provinces. When Quebec is factored in, the national average rises to 72%.
These percentages are down across the board versus the peak year of 2018, but TRAC said changes such as these are not uncommon due to the relatively small sample size.
TRAC also noted the sample size yields a margin of error of +/-2.5%.
In Ontario, Canada's most populous province at 14.7 million inhabitants, winter tire usage stands at 66%, the study shows.
In 2020, nearly two-thirds of Canadian motorists significantly reduced their driving due to COVID-19 fears, according to the study.
At the same time, the survey reveals that 6% of drivers riding on winter tires avoided changing over to their summer tires because of coronavirus concerns; nine-in-10 indicated that their spring tire changeover was not influenced by COVID-19.
Regarding the reasons for using — or not using — winter tires, nearly two-thirds of drivers outside Quebec who do not use winter tires said they believe all-season tires are good enough, while 30% indicated they reduce their driving in winter and 27% cited the cost.
Of those who use winter tires, 81% said they believe driving a vehicle equipped with winter tires has saved them from loss of control or a collision, the survey said.
TRAC noted in the study that starting Jan. 1, 2020, insurance companies active in Newfoundland are required to provide a discount to policyholders who use four winter tires on their vehicles. The legislative language does not specify the size of the discount.
Newfoundland is the second province to enact this regulation. Ontario did so in 2016.
In addition, Manitoba offers low-interest financing for buying winter tires.