The weekend's wintry weather led to several crashes in Nova Scotia and has prompted many drivers to get their winter tires installed.

Transport Canada recommends winter tires for all vehicles driven in winter conditions. It's simple science: in cold weather, summer tires harden and lose their grip on the road. Add ice and snow and you're skidding through the stop sign into oncoming traffic.

Winter tires are high-tech tools designed to keep a grip and maintain elasticity even when it's –30 C.

In a series of tests, Transport Canada and the Rubber Association of Canada found that:

  • At temperatures below 7 C, all-season and summer tires harden and lose traction.
  • Winter tires retain their elasticity and grip at much lower temperatures.
  • Winter tires offer up to 50 per cent more traction than all-seasons.
  • Mixing old tires with new degrades your vehicle's stability.
  • Installing only two winter tires creates traction imbalance that causes vehicles to steer improperly and go out of control.
  • Tires that are worn close to 4 millimetres (5/32) should not be used on snow-covered roads because traction is impaired.

Transport Canada also recommends ensuring your tires are properly inflated. A temperature drop of 15 degrees results in 10 per cent or three psi under-inflation, which makes your car burn more fuel.

In tests, winter-tire equipped vehicles stop much quicker and take corners much better. The faster you drive, the bigger the discrepancy becomes.

Watch this video to see the difference: 

Quebec has reported a five per cent drop in winter crashes since winter tire use was made mandatory. It estimates that means 575 fewer injuries per year.

"Winter tires handle winter driving conditions so well because they provide the best possible contact between your vehicle and the road. Whether the road surface is snowy or icy, wet or dry, winter tires offer optimal traction in all cold-weather conditions," the Rubber Association of Canada said.

It suggests thinking of them not as snow tires, but as cold-weather tires.