British Columbia

Winter tire rules take effect on B.C. highways as snow flies in the northeast

Snow blanketed parts of northeastern B.C. this morning, the same day that drivers are required to use snow tires when driving on certain B.C. highways.

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

The first snow of the winter has fallen in northeastern B.C., on the same day winter tire rules go into effect. (Steve Ryder)

Snow blanketed parts of northeastern B.C. Saturday morning, the same day that drivers are required to use snow tires when driving on certain B.C. highways.

Many highways in the province require passenger vehicles to be equipped with winter tires between Oct. 1 and March 31. Trucks travelling these routes are also required to carry chains.

"Drivers who travel on high mountain passes and designated routes where weather can suddenly change need to make sure their vehicles are winter ready," Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone said in a news release earlier this week.

"Make sure you are using winter tires that are in good condition, with solid treads, and adjusting your speed to match road and weather conditions."

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 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.

Most major highways in the B.C. Interior and northern regions require winter tires in winter months.

Winter tires are not required on highways in the Lower Mainland highways, but are required on much of the Sea-to-Sky, 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.