Get a grip: Doctors push for mandatory winter tires

If the New Brunswick Medical Society had its way, winter tires for all vehicles would be mandatory.

New Brunswick Medical Society launches campaign on benefits of winter tires over all-seasons

The New Brunswick Medical Society says winter tires are safer than all-season tires for winters in the province. (David Donnelly/CBC)

If the New Brunswick Medical Society had its way, winter tires for all vehicles would be mandatory.

The medical society has recently launched a public awareness campaign about the benefits of winter tires and why all-season tires won't do for a New Brunswick winter.

"They're not good enough and they cannot replace the advantage, which we get by installing winter tires," said Dr. Dharm Singh, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society.  

The second part of the campaign includes telling the provincial government it should consider amending the province's Motor Vehicle Act to make winter tires mandatory for all vehicles, including rental cars and taxis. 

"If we want to make any change, we have to be leading by example," he said.

Singh is hoping the campaign will educate New Brunswickers about the health and safety of everyone.

If any help government can provide for those people who cannot afford, that would be great, why not?- Dharm  Singh, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society

"We believe the issue of winter tires and more widespread use of winter tires, would make roads safer in this province for everyone," he said.

He said the braking distance of winter tires — the distance a car travels after the brakes are applied — is 25 per cent less than with all-season tires.

"Winter tires remain elastic, remain flexible even in treacherous conditions of winter, extreme cold, freezing conditions," he said. "They are safer when you drive them on the road compared to all-season tires."

And winter tires increase safety for everyone one the road, he said. 

"These two sets of tires are going to last longer," he said. "You're only using them for five or six months and then you change to all-season tires."

A 2016 Ipsos survey suggested that three in 10 Canadians do not install winter tires, although in Atlantic Canada, the number was two in 10.

Tires come at a price

While younger drivers are more likely to install winter tires, only 72 per cent of drivers 35 to 54 years old install them, and only 65 per cent of drivers over 55 do, the medical society said in a news release.

But the cost of buying four winter tires does come at a price, and Singh is hopeful the province will subsidize part of the cost.

"If any help government can provide for those people who cannot afford them, that would be great — why not?" he said.

Ultimately, he said, the purchase would be worth it in the long run.

Dr. Dharm Singh, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society is asking the province to make winter tires mandatory. 7:10

Despite the medical group's advice, Geneviève Mallet of the Department of Public Safety said the province has no plans to amend the Motor Vehicle Act.

"We continue to recommend the use of winter tires in New Brunswick in conjunction with safe winter driving practices," the department spokesperson said. "Our department monitors research on winter tires."