Winter tire rules in effect on B.C. highways starting Oct. 1

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From Oct. 1 to March 31, drivers travelling on most B.C. highways are legally required to use winter tires. That's extended to April 30 on some mountain highways. (Monty Kruger/CBC - image credit)
From Oct. 1 to March 31, drivers travelling on most B.C. highways are legally required to use winter tires. That's extended to April 30 on some mountain highways. (Monty Kruger/CBC - image credit)

As of Friday, B.C. drivers once again need snow tires to travel on most of the province's highways.

The province requires passenger vehicles using major roadways be equipped with winter tires between Oct. 1 and March 31 every year, to account for more hazardous weather.

The annual requirement covers:

  • All highways in the North;

  • All highways in the Interior;

  • Sections of some highways on the South Coast, including the Sea to Sky Highway; and

  • Sections of some highways on Vancouver Island, including the Malahat and highways 4, 14 and 28.

Trucks travelling these routes are also required to carry chains.

For select highways, the date is extended until April 30 to account for early spring snowfall. The province said these highways, including mountain passes and rural routes in heavy snowfall areas, are marked with regulatory signs.

Look for the snowflake or M+S

Winter tires — sometimes called alpine or snow tires — are marked with a symbol of a snowflake inside a three-peaked mountain placed on the sidewall of the tire.

Mud and snow tires, marked with an M+S symbol, also qualify as winter tires, though the Ministry of Transportation notes they are less effective than dedicated alpine snow tires.

The ministry requires winter tires to have tread at least 3.5 millimetres deep. It requires at least two matching winter tires on the vehicle's drive axle, but recommends a matching set on all wheels.

Drivers without proper winter tires in good condition caught driving on designated highways can be fined $121.

A full list of routes requiring winter tires can be found on the ministry website.

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