No plans to make winter tires the law in Ontario, minister says

The province of Ontario is implementing new measures to help keep drivers safe in the winter, but don't expect winter tires during snowy months to be required by law.

Ontario installing weather warning signs, beefing up transport truck safety blitzes on Highway 401

Terrible winter driving conditions have caused many multi-vehicle collisions on Highway 401 near Cobourg, Ontario. The province recently announced new measures to help keep drivers safe on the highway. (CBC)

The province of Ontario is implementing new measures to help keep drivers safe in the winter, but don't expect winter tires during snowy months to be required by law. Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca says the province has no plans to make winter tires mandatory.

Del Duca told CBC Radio's All In A Day Tuesday that the key to keeping drivers safe is making sure they're informed. He said the province would rather empower motorists to make their own choices about safety than make winter tires mandatory, like the Quebec government has done.

"The more information we can put in the hands of the travelling public, the better it is for them to make those kind of informed choices to keep themselves safe and other motorists on the road safe as well," he said.

The province announced new winter driving measures after numerous bad crashes — some fatal — involving transport trucks happened on a stretch of the busy highway this year.

Several new weather-warning signs have been installed between Kingston and Cobourg, Ont., which Del Duca said have been a powerful tool in any place the province has put them.

Del Duca said the province is also "stepping up" with transport truck safety blitzes along the collision-prone stretch of Highway 401.

"We're doing some targeted blitzes to make sure that the loads that are being carried, that there's mechanical fitness that's being achieved appropriately by those vehicles, that the drivers themselves are in control, can understand what's taking place," he said.

The Province announced new winter driving measure for the 401 to help keep people safe after several bad crashes on the highway. 8:52

401 driving a 'blood sport'

Anyone who drives on Highway 401 in inclement weather knows how dangerous the roads can be.

After two collisions in one day near Prescott, Ont., that killed two people and resulted in numerous injuries just two weeks ago, the mayor of the town called on the province to make the highway safer.

"We're almost seeing at certain times the 401 turning into a blood sport now. We've had a number of serious accidents in the last calendar year," Prescott Mayor Brett Todd said after the deadly day of collisions in November.

Todd has raised safety concerns about rerouted traffic coming into Prescott and other towns when collisions occur on the highway.

Del Duca said additional weather signs and more intensive blitzes are short-term steps, adding he expects further discussions between the ministry and mayors about rerouted traffic to take place in the new year.

"We'll have to figure that piece out," he said. "That's going to be part of the longer-term objectives we have."