Province expands definition of winter tires

Ones marked for mud and snow now considered winter tires

THE PROVINCIAL government has expanded its definition of winter tires to include ones marked “M and S” for mud and snow.

Previously it had only recognized the tires with snowflake symbol, or chains, as appropriate for some highways in B.C. and those without could face fines.

The expanded definition was included in a policy change which will see speed limits increased on stretches of southern B.C. highways.

The ministry won’t be increasing the current 100 k/mh speed limit on Highway 16.

A public opinion poll published by the Ministry of Transportation shows that 69 per cent of survey respondents said they change their tires when the cold snap hits, however only 63 per cent switch to winter tires while 34 per cent opt for “M and S” tires, or all seasons.

The ministry recognized that the definition of winter tires hasn’t been altered since the ’70s and they took that into consideration when they decided they would add the M+S symbol to the new signage that will be posted on some B.C. highways.

The new signs will have both the M+S and snowflake symbol. Signs will also reflect the new dates that these tires—or chains—are mandatory. Vehicles must be prepped for winter between October 1 and March 31.

Still, winter tires must earn their snowflake symbol by having better grip, a softer pliable rubber under harsh conditions and have more traction on ice than the M+S, meaning that they are ultimately still the safest choice for long distance highway driving in snowy conditions.