Using the 'penny test

Police urge motorists to check their tire treads

Icy roads are on the way and good tires are essential for navigating in winter.

With icy roads coming soon, the RCMP have a two-fold message for drivers – use the right tires on your vehicle and make sure you have enough tread on your tires to stay safe.

In the Lower Mainland, the right tires will depend on where you’re driving and what your expectations are for your tires.

“All season mud and snow tires, while currently legal, are not good winter tires,” advises Supt. Norm Gaumont, head of traffic services for the RCMP in the Lower Mainland.

“Tires need to have the mountain snowflake emblem on them, to be true winter tires. And either winter tires or chains are required by law, if you’re traveling in many areas in Whistler or in the Interior.”

Once temperatures fall below seven degrees Celsius, winter tires will provide better traction than all-season tires, which translates to shorter stopping distances and better vehicle cornering and control.

Gaumont notes that there are all-season tires with a snowflake emblem, but they’re not yet that common, and can cost more.

Drivers should also use the penny test to determine if their tires have enough tread depth, generally at least 3.5 mm. Hold a penny upside down and insert it into the tread of front and rear tires. If the Queen’s head is fully visible, the tire doesn’t have enough tread.

“Drivers shouldn’t rely solely on the advanced safety features of modern cars – such as ABS braking or airbags,” notes Gaumont. “It takes two minutes to check the tread on your tires, and that could make the difference for you and your family. Having good tire tread allows you to stop in time, prevents crashes, and helps keep you from hydroplaning. If you constantly feel your ABS system activating, you are driving too fast for the conditions. In effect, you are removing the advantage that ABS provides.”

In fact, research conducted by the government of Quebec in the two years since winter tire use became universal in that province has proven that winter tires save lives and reduce injuries.

The 2011 study, which compared Quebec road accident statistics before and after winter tire use became required, shows that in the past two winters there has been a five-per-cent reduction in road accident injuries that can be directly attributed to winter tire use. The research concludes that winter tires prevent about 575 road accident injuries per winter in Quebec. The study also found that vehicle accidents resulting in death or serious injury declined by three per cent.

“When people ride on winter tires, road-accident injuries decrease,” says Glenn Maidment, president of the Rubber Association of Canada (RAC), which represents tire makers. “Considering that only 51 per cent of Canadian motorists use winter tires, the Quebec experience should give us all pause for thought. There now can be absolutely no doubt that winter tires offer the safest winter driving experience.”

This fall tire makers are urging Canadian drivers to carefully consider whether winter tires are right for them and to make an educated choice. To help motorists make the right decision for their driving patterns, the industry is offering drivers a wealth of information about the performance advantages of winter tires at its website, betiresmart.ca.

What motorists may not know is that today’s high-tech winter tires offer far more than better traction on snow, ice or slush covered roadways. The rubber compounds used in today’s sophisticated winter tires deliver better grip in all cold weather driving conditions – including dry pavement – because these compounds maintain their elasticity even at temperatures below minus-30 degrees Celsius. The result is a dramatic improvement in driver control and traction in all winter driving conditions, particularly when cornering or braking.

Drivers who choose to put on winter tires will notice the difference in traction when the temperature falls below seven degrees Celsius, or as soon as they can see their breath.

Traditionally, many drivers, particularly those who live in cities or towns where the streets are cleared regularly, have opted for all-season tires to avoid the bi-annual tire changeover. All-season tires can provide safe all-weather performance, but winter tires deliver up to 50 per cent more winter traction.

“The most common objection to winter tires is cost,” says Maidment. “But that concern is tempered by the fact that using winter tires prolongs the life of a vehicle’s conventional summer tires, which over time saves money. Given the performance and safety advantages, winter tires should be considered a driving essential from December to April.”

When buying winter tires, motorists should look for the mountain snowflake symbol on the sidewall. Tires with this symbol meet or exceed tire industry snow traction requirements.

Proper tire maintenance and inflation are also important contributors to safe winter driving.

Motorists should remember that excessive tread wear can diminish traction and, as a result, tread depth should always be checked at the start of the winter driving season. Drivers who are unsure if their tires are overly worn should consult their tire retailer to determine if they should be replaced.

Proper tire inflation is another winter driving essential. Tires that are under- or over-inflated have a smaller footprint on the road surface, which lessens their grip. The result is reduced stopping and handling capabilities and wasted fuel.

Tire inflation pressure can drop quickly during cold snaps. Every five degrees Celsius change results in about one psi change in pressure, so a temperature drop of 15 degrees Celsius would result in 10 per cent or three psi under-inflation. During winter, tire makers recommend measuring tire inflation frequently using a reliable tire gauge to ensure tires are properly inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation.

 

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Pods’ set up at Surrey homeless centre

Temporary shelter set up in April to help stop the spread of COVID-19

Suspect sought in alleged indecent act in South Surrey

Police say incident occurred near 13 Avenue and 131 Street

New video evidence in Surrey man’s West Kelowna murder trial shown in court

The defence closed its case following the playing of the video in court, marking the end of the evidentiary phase of the trial

IHIT investigating ‘suspicious’ death of Surrey man

Officers found a body in the 11300-block of Bridgeview Drive: Surrey RCMP

PHOTOS: White Rock Farmers’ Market ‘welcomes all vendors’

Relaxing pandemic restrictions mean full spectrum of vendors can return to uptown market: manager

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

IHIT names homicide victim found in the Fraser Canyon this week

Police asking for tips into the suspicious death of 29-year-old Alicia Berg

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

Most Read