Winter tire rules take effect on B.C. highways as temperatures start to drop

From Oct. 1 through March 31, drivers are required to use snow tires on most B.C. highways.

Annual highway rules kick in Oct. 1, last until March 31

As of Sunday morning, drivers travelling on most B.C. highways are legally required to use winter tires. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

It's that time of year again: as of Sunday morning, B.C. drivers will need snow tires to travel on most of the province's highways.

The province requires passenger vehicles to be equipped with winter tires between Oct. 1 and March 31 while travelling on almost all highways outside the Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island.

Trucks travelling these routes are also required to carry chains.

Tires safe for winter use will be marked with either a snowflake or a M+S symbol. (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

Look for the snowflake or M+S

Winter tires — sometimes called alpine or snow tires — are marked with a symbol of a snowflake inside a three-peaked mountain placed on the sidewall of the tire.

Mud and snow tires, marked with an M+S symbol, also qualify as winter tires, though the Ministry of Transportation notes they are less effective than dedicated alpine snow tires.

The ministry requires winter tires to have at least 3.5 millimetres of tread remaining. It requires at least two matching winter tires on the vehicle's drive axle, but recommends a matching set on all wheels.

While winter tires are not required on highways in the Lower Mainland, they are required on much of the Sea-to-Sky Highway, as well as routes north and east of Hope.

A full list of routes requiring winter tires can be found on the ministry's website.