- Canada's Automobile Association is trying to make Winter Tire Appointment Week an annual event in early October.
- The Canadian provinces have their own individual dates and regulations about snow tires, but they're currently working together to make them more harmonious.
- The United States doesn't require winter tires, but C/D suggests those of you in areas with snow and ice take a tip from Canada and make your own Winter Tire Appointment plans. We've got winter-tire tips for you.
It may only be October, but the first snow of the winter has already fallen in the U.S. Lower 48. To our north, some drivers in Canada are starting to face fines if they don't make the shift to snow tires. That's because Canada, like many northern countries around the world, has rules requiring winter tires during the cold months.
Each of Canada's provinces has its own set of rules about when winter tires are required, but they are currently changing their laws to harmonize better. For instance, British Columbia requires snow tires for vehicles that use "major highways" between October 1 and March 30, but Quebec is the only jurisdiction in Canada that has a mandatory winter tire period for all roads. It runs from December 1 to March 15, and a spokesperson for the Canadian Automobile Association–Quebec office, Pierre-Olivier Fortin, told Car and Driver that even though those are the official dates, safe snow-tire use is really more about the temperature than precipitation.
CAA-Quebec says that it's time to take summer tires off your car "as soon as any chance of heat is past" and also emphasizes that all-season tires don’t function well when it gets colder than 44 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius).
"All-season tires will lose their grip under 7 degrees, and we get that kind of temperature as early as September or October here," Fortin said.
To help local drivers meet the December 1 deadline, CAA-Quebec is now calling the first week of October Winter Tire Appointment Week. The idea is to make early October a time for people to make an appointment to get snow tires put on, even if they aren't quite ready to do it just yet. To help drivers change their tires at the right time, CAA-Quebec has issued a list of "realistic dates" when tires should be swapped in different parts of the province; the timeline starts October 20 in Sept-Îles and ends on November 10 in Montreal. The organization has recommended dates for other provinces as well.
A fair number of wintry countries have snow-tire regulations. Japan, for example, requires winter tires on certain snowy or icy road surfaces. Seventeen Northern European countries, including Germany, Norway, and Russia, require snow tires during set dates in winter.
Fortin pointed out that Quebec can issue fines to drivers who are on the road without the right tires. "But getting a fine should not be the main reason to get your winter tires on," he said. "It should be your own safety."
At home, the CNN Weather Center is predicting snow and a "drastic temperature drop" for the north central United States right now, in the middle of October. That drop could be 50 degrees Fahrenheit in under 24 hours, and it might bring wetness with it. So now might be a good time to make a winter-tire appointment in some parts of the United States.
Cities in the North Central United States will shift from fall to winter overnight as a cold front brings snow and a drastic temperature drop. https://t.co/qq2CBBqi66— CNN Weather Center (@CNNweather) October 10, 2019
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