Many drivers in Quebec might still think the winter tires deadline date is December 15 but an update in the provincial highway code in 2018 has pushed that sooner.
Quebec is the only province in Canada that has a winter tire law. According to the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), all drivers must make the switch as of December 1, 2022.
Failure to switch over to winter tires by the mandated date can result in a fine of up to $300, along with a potential loss of two demerit points.
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Between December 1 and March 15, only tires approved for winter use are allowed on the road in Quebec. For quick confirmation, drivers can look for the mountain snowflake emblem on winter and all-season tires.
Quebec is the only province to make winter tire use mandatory. Drivers in BC are required to have winter tires installed while travelling on certain designated highways around the province (mainly near high mountain routes where road conditions can be treacherous). In Ontario, insurance companies offer incentives for vehicles using winter tires, while Manitoba offers loans as an incentive to use winter tires.
Quebec’s channel of the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) says Quebecers should install winter tires on their cars as soon as temperatures drop below 7ºC for consecutive days.
Vous n’avez pas vos pneus d’hiver?
On vous donne quelques petits trucs pour prendre la route en toute sécurité en cette première journée de neige! ❄️🚗 pic.twitter.com/aD2GhGE3eE
— CAA-Québec (@CAA_Quebec) November 16, 2022
For better traction, the SAAQ recommends the tread depth of your winter tires should be at least 4.8 mm (6/32 in) across the entire width of the tire when they are installed.
The agency says a thick tread depth generally allows drivers to safely travel on snowy roads. “However, if you use your tires over long distances during the winter months, pay particular attention to their condition—vehicle traction can decrease quickly once treads get worn down to that point,” says the SAAQ.
The agency also urges Quebec drivers to check the age of tires before installation. To do so, find the DOT identification number that ends with a four-digit number. For example, 3613 means that the tire was made in the 36th week of 2013.
The tread on older tires is harder and less effective on snow and ice.
A report in 2012 by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation found there has been a 36% reduction in the number of winter collisions in Quebec since the provincial government passed the mandatory winter tire law in 2008.