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Winter tires save lives and money

(NC) There is nothing more beautiful than a highway lined with autumn colours. They take one's breath away. But, just as soon as they appear, they'll be gone and the sub-zero temperatures will be the next thing to take one's breath away. While we can all agree that the prospect of winter is pretty miserable — unless you're a skier — there's really nothing worse than hitting a patch of black ice. But according to recent Canadian Tire survey, a majority of drivers in Ontario, the Prairies and British Columbia choose not to install winter tires, mistakenly believing that all-season tires offer adequate safety.

The evidence says otherwise. In winter-condition tests, Transport Canada and the Rubber Association of Canada found that stopping was 30 to 40 per cent longer with all-season compared to winter tires. In cornering, vehicles with all-season tires went off the testing track at speeds of only 40 to 50 km/h, while the vehicles equipped with winter tires had no problem. The results were consistent with front-, rear- and all-wheel vehicles.

The experts from Desjardins Insurance agree that winter tires are designed to save lives. "What's interesting is that many people who live in snow-belt regions across the country recognize the need for them," said Desjardins spokesperson Joe Daly. "But some drivers in urban regions don't see the need to switch. The fact is we've all experienced those icy mornings when you're rushing to work or school and the salt trucks just haven't made it to your neighbourhood yet. These conditions are much more dangerous than just plain snow and having the right tires can keep every one safe.”

The reason why these tires are the most effective at preventing accidents is because they have deeper, specially-designed treads and are made of innovative rubber compounds that are softer and more pliant. This allows them to perform better on ice, snow and slush, but also in both dry and wet conditions when the temperature dips below 7C.

Daly also suggests that it's also important to keep an eye on your tires' air pressure. "Overnight temperatures can drop from 5˚ to –15˚ and this rapid reduction can zap the air out of you tires by as much as 4 psi. An under-inflated tire can be quite dangerous, so it's important to keep tracking your tire pressure."

Having a safe winter is a great reason to equip your car with the best tires. Transport Canada suggests that “winter tires marked with the pictograph of a peaked mountain with a snowflake meet specific snow traction performance requirements, and have been designed specifically for use in winter conditions.” Another incentive is that some insurance companies like Desjardins will reward their clients who use winter tires with a discount on their auto insurance.

For more information about winter driving safety, visit Desjardins Insurance at www.desjardinsgeneralinsurance.com.

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