Calgary police recommend but don’t use on own vehicles

Each winter as the first snowfall blankets the roads, drivers never seem quite prepared and crashes litter the streets. Snowy weather can catch people off guard, and in most cases, drivers don’t have their winter tires on yet.

Const. Jim Lebedeff, part of the traffic education system for the Calgary Police Service, said that on Sunday, Oct. 27, there were approximately 272 property damage crashes and 27 injury crashes reported in the city.

 The following weekend there were 177 property damage collisions and ten injuries. Lebedeff said Calgary drivers were not caught off guard on the second weekend and had made winter driving preparations.

However, even at the beginning of December, once many people already have winter tires, there were still numerous accidents during the blizzard that hit the city. From Dec. 2 at 6 a.m. to noon on Dec. 4, there were 30 injury classes and 396 non-injury, according to Calgary police.

Parker Hogan, the press secretary for the Ministry of Transportation, says the province has no plans to make treads required by law and didn’t directly recommend the use of winter tires.

“The government has no plans to legislate snow tire use, but expects that Albertans know they live in a winter environment and if they will be driving in snow, ice and other winter conditions would prepare their vehicle to maximize their safety,” Hogan said via email.

“I think anybody that drives a vehicle and is travelling at speeds of 50 km/h on asphalt or gravel or anything else that gets snowed on, for their own safety, the safety of their passengers and those around them, it’s one of those things where it would be considered common sense,” Hogan said later on the phone.Calgarians drive down Glenmore Trail through snowy conditions. Winter tires are not mandatory in the province, and likely won’t be any time in the near future.

Photo by Neil Hilts

Hogan also said Alberta has no plans to implement mandatory snow tires in mountainous areas near the Rocky Mountains with more snow. British Columbia currently enforces that cars must have winter tires from Oct. 1 to April 30 when driving through certain regions.

“Motorists need to ensure their vehicles are well-maintained and ready to face winter driving conditions,” Hogan said. “We also recommend motorists always drive according to road conditions.”

Lebedeff said the Calgary police do not record whether the vehicles in collisions have winter tires or not.

The Calgary police vehicles don’t require the use of winter tires, mainly because of the time it would take to change the whole fleet.

The new cars will be all-wheel drive, but they won’t require winter tires,” Lebedeff said. “It would take too long to change all tires on cop cars. They use an all-weather tire.”

While some people are confident enough to drive without winter tires, what about when it comes down to children on their way to and from school?

Fernando De Sousa, a rural maintenance manager of Southland Transportation Ltd., said via email that the province dictates whether or not school buses require winter tires, though there isn’t a law.

“Southland Transportation does not use winter tires on their buses but we do use Goodyear tires  G622,” De Sousa said. “These tires have aggressive blading that provides great road-gripping traction in all weather conditions. Our tire treads also have sipes that help tremendously in wet snow conditions.”

Kaltire senior zone manager Mike Butcher witnesses the rush of people who switch to winter tires, but says Calgarians seemed to be more prepared than in past years.

He says he would be a supporter of winter tires required by law.

“I would probably lean towards (having winter tires legislated). I wish there wouldn’t have to be a law to get it done, but there is a definite benefit to having (them),” Butcher said.

Butcher also said there are viable all-season tires for those who don’t want to switch their tires, but said they don’t compare to an ideal winter tire.

More information on road safety and winter driving in Alberta can be found at the Government of Alberta’s website www.saferoads.com.

nhilts@cjournal.ca