Insurance discount for drivers with snow tires a welcome move
Ontario’s move to mandate insurance companies to provide insurance discounts for drivers who buy and install winter tires is a step in the right direction toward both decreasing costs for consumers and placing an emphasis on safety, says Aurora personal injury lawyer Tim Boland.
The mandatory rebate, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2016, is part of the provincial government’s plan to lower premiums for Ontario drivers, says a news release. The Liberals pledged to lower auto insurance rates by an average of 15 per cent by August 2015, but the target hasn’t been met.
The initiative is also about safety, says the news release, noting winter tires reduce the likelihood of collisions by improving traction, braking and handling in frost, snow, slush and under cold and icy conditions.
Tim Boland, a founding partner with BolandHowe LLP (one of the best personal injury lawyers company located in Toronto, North York area), says research has shown that winter tires make a “huge difference” for drivers.
“This is a really positive move in terms of safety,” Boland tells AdvocateDaily.com. “Studies have consistently shown that a good snow tire plays a significant role in vehicle handling on snowy, slushy, icy and wet roadways.”
Boland explains that the contacting portion of the tires is not much larger than the palm of one’s hand, and that such a small surface provides all the traction. Winter tires work, says Tim Boland, either by punching through soft snow to the asphalt beneath, or by relying on the properties of snow: mechanical-interlock, adhesion and cohesion.
The extent to which the tires can take advantage of these properties depends upon the type of snow, he says.
“For example, when snow is fluffy, it does not stick to itself (cohesion) or to the tires (adhesion), allowing the treads to punch through to the asphalt below,” says Boland. “When snow is able to pack, then the tires are able to bite into the snow and rely on their cohesion and mechanical-interlocking properties. When treads are not deep enough, and do not clear, the car essentially runs on a pad of snow-on-snow. Friction is lost and control is diminished.”
While the new rebate is welcome, ideally, says Boland, Ontario would go further and follow Quebec’s lead in mandating winter tires across the board.
“I think the Quebec model is the preferred one,” says Boland. “Ontario is moving in the right direction but it’s not enough.”
It’s not clear how much of a discount will be offered to drivers, or how the amount will be regulated, but Boland says it should be enough to motivate motorists to make the investment.
Regardless, Boland says it’s clear that winter tires are “an investment in safety,” and therefore worth the extra cost.
“I think a lot of people confuse the performance of all-wheel drive systems as compared to having winter tires,” he says.
“All the all-wheel drive system does is give you greater acceleration in slippery conditions, and it gives you somewhat better turning abilities at low speeds, but in all accidents involving higher speeds with the potential for greater injury all-wheel drive systems don’t help. They don’t make a difference for a vehicle stopping in slush or snow.”
Winter road safety has “everything to do with your tires,” says Boland, who has extensive experience working in winter maintenance car accident cases.
In one case that went to trial, Boland retained a former Goodyear scientist to explain to the court how automobile tires interact with different road surface conditions, such as slush versus snow. This helped the court evaluate the effectiveness of municipal snow clearing regulations, he says.
“The end result of all the research is that there’s a real advantage to having proper snow tires for winter conditions,” says Boland.