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Are you ready for winter driving? Siskinds Associate Anna Szczurko has looked at the issue of safe winter driving and has a few important tips. A distinct wintery chill is settling into the Southwestern Ontario and London region as we approach our first winter storm of the season. It will not be long before we are dealing with sub-zero temperatures and a wind chill that demands respect!

While winter tires (or “snow” tires) are not mandatory in Ontario, they should not be viewed by Ontario drivers as optional. A vehicle outfitted with four winter tires requires 25% less stopping distance – allowing you to stop and potentially avoid collisions complicated by less than ideal weather. Transport Canada testing showed that vehicles equipped with only all-season tires went off the testing track at speeds of 40 to 50 km/h, while vehicles equipped with winter tires had no problem.1

Winter tires have a special “soft” rubber and tread design to optimize handling in winter weather. The tread remains flexible below 7oC, preventing snow buildup and improving traction. When shopping for winter tires, look for the peaked mountain with snowflake symbol. To optimize safety and handling, all four tires should be replaced as required.

Some Ontario insurance companies have incentives to assist to offset the purchase price of snow tires by offering 5% policy discounts. Check with your insurance broker to see what incentives your agent has available.

As lawyers, we often see files involving collisions in winter driving conditions. The likelihood of collisions occurring, and the severity, may be decreased by winter tires optimizing vehicle performance. A driver’s failure to use winter tires could be a factor considered when liability for an accident is determined or when police consider whether a traffic ticket is warranted.

Remember that even when your vehicle is improved with the addition of winter tires, drive defensively in accordance with road and traffic conditions.

Anna Szczurko is an associate in the Personal Injury Group, dealing primarily with instances of negligence and the related aspects of insurance law. Anna is committed to helping individuals and their families when they are often at their most vulnerable, whether injured from a motor vehicle accident, a slip and fall or dealing with a fire loss claim. Contact Anna at 519-660-7784 or send an email to [email protected] to discuss your situation free of charge.

1 Winter tires save lives and money, Canada Safety Council, Vol LVI No.1, January 2012.

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