On the heels of record-breaking snowfall in Alberta, and a taste of the white stuff here in BC over the weekend, the provincial government is advising drivers that winter tires are mandatory for those travelling on most of BC’s highways, starting this Tuesday, October 1, 2019.
According to Ministry of Transportation guidelines, drivers are required to use winter tires on their vehicles if they are travelling on BC highways in the following regions: North; Interior; South Coast, such as the Sea-to-Sky Highway; and areas of Vancouver Island, such as the Malahat Highway, Highway 4, Highway 14, and Highway 28.
Winter tires or chains are required on most routes in BC from October 1 to April 30. For select highways not located through mountain passes and/or high snowfall areas, tire and chain requirements end March 31.
These routes are marked with regulatory signs posted on numbered and un-numbered highways throughout the province.
The regulations are enforced by the police, as well as ministry, and those who don’t follow the rules can be subject to a variety of financial penalties:
- Passenger vehicles not equipped with winter tires when/where required are subject to $121 fine
- Commercial vehicles not carrying chains when/where required are subject to a fine of $196
- Commercial vehicles bypassing an active chain-up area are subject to a fine of $598
Lower Mainland and Southeastern Vancouver Island
The Ministry of Transportation notes that due to a more temperate winter climate in the Lower Mainland and southeastern Vancouver Island, drivers are not required to use winter tires (although certain exceptions apply, such as the Malahat Highway).
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However, drivers are still responsible for having their vehicle properly equipped for the conditions they are operating in. Remember: If you plan to travel outside the Lower Mainland and southeastern Vancouver Island, winter tires are required on most highways.
Appropriate winter tires for optimal traction on snow and ice and in cold weather are labelled with either the “M+S” or mountain/snowflake symbol, with the latter being the best option.
Such tires should be in good condition with a minimum tread depth of 3.5 mm.
Major mountain highway routes in the province have already experienced significant early season snowfall this past month.