winter

Lingering fall weather cause for snow tire hesitance

Winter tires make for safer driving, province and auto repair shop agree

Cooler temperatures prompt calls to change to winter tires.   Jonah Cole

With warmer fall temperatures, drivers are delaying the switch to winter tires, says the owner of one Halifax car repair shop.  

Kelly Taggart, owner of OC Automotive, said Friday this is usually the busiest time of the year for her business, but work has been slow.

“I just sent the guys home,” she said. “See what happens when the sun comes out?”

The government of Nova Scotia is advising drivers to prepare for winter nevertheless.

“People do seem pretty surprised when the snow comes,” said Brian Taylor, a spokesman for the province. “Get your winter tires on; don’t forget, even though we’re having a nice fall.”

A 2011 safety survey conducted by the province reported that 90 per cent of Nova Scotia drivers use winter tires. However, despite these numbers and Taylor’s encouragement, winter tires are not mandatory in Nova Scotia.

“We do highly recommend them, they do work, but government has no interest at this time of making them mandatory,” said Taylor.

For Taggart, driving speeds are what matter most.

“People need to slow down. I drive in from the county and I think, ‘Oh gosh, if they could just slow down,’” said Taggart.

When it comes to choosing tires, Taggart said as long as they are designed for winter driving, they should provide more traction.

“Studded tires are a personal choice,” said Taggart. “A few years back, we had a lot of ice and people were using studded tires in those conditions.”

As the temperatures drop, Taylor noted that maintenance crews will be out day and night, ensuring the roads are safe.

“There’s a lot of work that gets done overnight while we are sleeping,” he said. “There are crews out there laying down the salt, trying to keep the ice off so that when we drive our commute in the morning on a nice sunny day, it’s a bare highway.”

Clear road conditions change quickly during winter season.   Jonah Cole

Taylor said drivers should have a checklist in the winter. This includes wearing their seatbelt, leaving extra space between vehicles in front of and behind them, using brakes carefully and remembering  that it takes more time and distance to stop in adverse driving conditions.