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Oct. 1 means winter tires are mandatory on many B.C. routes

The most important aspect of a vehicle when it comes to safely navigating variable weather conditions is simple: get winter tires.

By Blair Qualey

The change of season means a lot of things for British Columbians. The beginning of ski season, the end of biking season, trading baseballs and soccer balls for hockey pucks, the holidays, cosy nights, and of course, plenty of snow and rain. And while it might be fun to get outside and go play in the snow, driving in it is a whole other matter.

It’s important to note that from Oct. 1 through to March 31, British Columbia has legislation that requires winter tire rules on most highways throughout the province. A good first step before hitting the road is to consult the Ministry of Transportation website where detailed maps indicate where and when winter tires, or chains, are required. Fines of $121 are in store for those who don’t adhere to the rules.

To stay informed about road conditions, consult Drive BC, where you can access real-time updates and view road cameras covering major highway routes.

The most important aspect of a vehicle when it comes to safely navigating variable weather conditions is simple: get winter tires. Look for tires bearing the snowflake symbol or the M&S (Mud+Snow) symbol, indicating they’re designed for winter or all-season use.

New car dealerships are valuable resources, offering expert guidance on selecting the right tires for your vehicle. Many also offer convenient services such as summer tire storage, making the seasonal transition hassle-free, and carry a wide range of tire brands.

We are blessed to have road access to some beautiful and impressive peaks and ranges here in B.C., but that often means navigating treacherous mountain passes, winding switchbacks and steep climbs and descents. Drive at reduced speeds, avoid abrupt braking and apply gentle pressure to the accelerator pedal.

Slower driving is always a wise choice in tricky weather conditions. When visibility is limited due to rain or snow, use your headlights to make yourself visible to other vehicles both ahead and behind you. Most modern vehicles do come equipped with electronic traction and stability control features that can enhance your safety during winter driving, so make sure these systems are activated or set to snow mode!

No winter journey is complete without an emergency roadside kit that includes items like flares, a flashlight, basic tools, water, a first-aid kit, and extra layers of warm clothing, outerwear and footwear. These supplies may prove invaluable in the event of an unexpected situation.

Your local new car dealer is your one-stop shop for supplies! Dealerships are committed to ensuring your safety and comfort on the road. They can provide everything you need to transition into winter safely and confidently. So before hitting the roads this winter, visit your nearest dealership to get winter ready.

Special Note: On behalf of New Car Dealers, I would like to extend best wishes to industry icon Jimmy Pattison who will celebrate his 95th birthday on Oct. 1.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at