Quebec motorists will be required to swap their summer tires for winter ones starting next winter, under a provincial law passed Wednesday.

As of Nov. 15, 2008, drivers will have to equip their vehicles with snow tires from that day each year through to April 15. The province estimates that 90 per cent of vehicles already use snow tires though an estimated 500,000 people rely on all-season tires.

The law makes Quebec the first province to require winter tires.

Jean-Marie de Koninck, who served as the head of a provincial task force on road safety, said the change is expected to help curb winter accidents.

"There's about 10 per cent of the people right now that don't have winter tires on and they're involved in 38 per cent of the accidents on the road in the winter," he said.

"It does make a big difference if you have summer tires on or winter tires on," he said.

Drivers found without the tires will be fined between $200 and $300, though de Koninck acknowledged spotting drivers without winter tires may be difficult for police officers.

"It is difficult for policemen to enforce the law," he said. "But overall if it reduces the number of fatalities on the road, then we should go ahead with it."

Finland, Sweden, Estonia and Latvia are among the countries that have similar laws requiring drivers to use winter tires to navigate snowy roads.