Starting on December 15, 2014, a winter tire will have to :
bear the pictogram representing a mountain with a superimposed snowflake;
be equipped with studs and be used in accordance with the Regulation respecting the use of non-skid devices on the tires of certain road vehicles.
Provisions Applicable to Tires Designed Specifically for Winter Driving
Pictogram identifying a tire specifically designed for winter driving.
Since 2008, the Highway Safety Code provides for the following:
“Between December 15 to March 15, the owner of a taxi or passenger vehicle registered in Québec may not put the vehicle into operation unless it is equipped with tires specifically designed for winter driving, in compliance with the standards prescribed by government regulation. The prohibition also applies to any person renting out passenger vehicles not equipped with that type of tires.”
It is important to remember that in terms of road safety, winter tires have proven their worth. They ensure that the vehicle has better stability when braking, make it possible to stop in a shorter distance and help the driver to stay on course around bends.
To find out more, please see the question-answer document below on winter tires:
During what part of the year is the use of snow tires mandatory in Québec?
Under the Highway Safety Code, all taxis and passenger vehicles registered in Québec must be equipped with tires specifically designed for winter driving from December 15 to March 15. This also applies to passenger vehicles for rent in Québec.
What is the purpose of this measure of the Highway Safety Code?
It is designed to increase road safety.
Information collected in 2005 shows that 38% of the accidents that occur during the winter involve at least one vehicle that is equipped with all-season tires. These vehicles are strongly overrepresented in these accidents, as it is estimated that before 2008, 90% of passenger vehicles were driven with winter tires. In addition, the proportion of the occurrence of loss of control is even higher when the vehicles involved are equipped with all-season tires.
Tires that are designed specifically for winter driving conditions are a safe solution for driving in winter. They are designed to achieve maximum adherence on snow or ice covered surfaces.
What types of vehicles have to be equipped with tires specifically designed for winter driving?
Taxis and passenger vehicles registered in Québec, including mopeds or motorized scooters and motorcycles, must be equipped with winter tires. This obligation also applies to passenger vehicles available for rental in Québec.
What is the definition of winter tires?
The regulation defines tires specifically designed for winter driving as those that meet one of the following criteria prior to December 15, 2014:
Tires on which one of the following inscriptions appear: Alaska, Arctic, A/T or AT, AT/S, AT-S , Blizzard, Cresta, Ice, INSA T1, INSA T2, INSA TT770, LT, Nordic, Snow (but not mud and snow), Stud, Studdable, Studded, Studless, TS, Ultra grip , Ultratraction or Winter, or the icon representing a mountain with a superimposed snowflake.
Tires that are equipped with studs and used in accordance with the Regulation respecting the use of non-skid devices on the tires of certain road vehicles.
Starting on December 15, 2014, tires will have to bear the icon or be equipped with studs and be used in accordance with the Regulation respecting the use of non-skid devices on the tires of certain road vehicles.
What happens if a tire bears both the “LT” and “M+S” inscriptions?
A tire marked “LT” is considered to be winter driving (until 2014).
In which cases does the mandatory requirement to equip vehicles with tires specifically designed for winter driving not apply?
Winter tires are not mandatory for:
the emergency tires on taxis or passenger vehicles;
motorcycles used as emergency vehicles within the meaning of section 4 of the Highway Safety Code;
passenger vehicles or taxis at the time of purchase from a vehicle retailer and for a period of seven days from the date of acquisition (the driver must keep the sales contract for the vehicle or a copy of the latter handy);
in the seven days prior to expiry of a lease contract of 12 months or more for a passenger vehicle or taxi (the driver must keep the lease contract for the vehicle or a copy of the latter handy);
passenger vehicles with temporary registration plates (X plate) delivered in accordance with the Regulation respecting road vehicle registration;
passenger vehicles with a temporary registration certificate (transit) delivered in accordance with the Regulation respecting road vehicle registration for the validity period indicated on the certificate, not exceeding a period of seven days from the date of issue of this certificate;
motor homes, or vehicles that have been permanently outfitted as dwellings;
passenger vehicles and taxis for which the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec has issued certificates (see question 7).
Under what circumstances may the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec issue a certificate authorizing the operation of a passenger vehicle or a taxi, if applicable, without winter tires?
When acquiring this vehicle (in cases other than when the owner acquires the vehicle from a retailer—see question 6, paragraph 3).
When the owner uses his vehicle for the purpose of leaving or returning to Québec.
For the return trip to a departure point situated outside Québec of a vehicle rented and registered outside Québec that, upon expiry of the rental period, was left by the renter at a place located in Québec.
When moving this vehicle from a dealer's establishment to a site for the purposes of its sale at auction, or from such a site to such a dealer's establishment.
When moving this vehicle to a site for the purposes of its judicial sale or from such a site to its starting point.
When returning the vehicle to operation after the owner elected not to drive this vehicle in accordance with the Regulation respecting road vehicle registration.
Upon termination of the lease contract of 12 months or more for this vehicle.
Are vehicles from outside of Québec affected by this measure?
No, with the exception of certain rental vehicles. The legislative provision applies to vehicles (taxis and passenger vehicles) registered in Québec, as well as to passenger vehicles that are rented in Québec (regardless of where they are registered).
How many winter tires must be used?
All the tires on the vehicle must be tires specifically designed for winter driving.
Are there fines for offenders?
Yes, fines range from $200 to $300.
Are demerit points deducted for such offences?
Have provisions been made for those who go south for the winter?
The owners of passenger vehicles who use their vehicles to leave or come back to Québec may obtain a certificate from the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec authorizing the operation of such vehicles without tires specifically designed for winter driving for a period of seven days.
If the owner of the vehicle was not able to leave Québec during the validity period of his certificate, he may obtain another certificate from the Société. During the period from December 15 to March 15, the Société may not issue more than four certificates for a given vehicle.
If the owner of the passenger vehicle knows his date of return prior to his departure, and if this date falls within the obligation period, he may obtain a certificate prior to his departure south.
The regulation for mandatory winter tires does not apply to motor homes.
Is there a cost to obtain a certificate?
No, the certificate is free.
You may obtain one at any of the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec service centres or online by clicking on Online Services SAAQclic at: www.saaq.gouv.qc.ca
Who is responsible for enforcing the law?
Enforcement of the law and regulation is the responsibility of police departments.
The Highway Safety Code already specifies that all vehicular equipment (including tires) must be in good condition. The Regulation respecting safety standards for road vehicles specifies that the depth of the tire tread or main groove must not be less than 1.6 mm for a vehicle that weighs less than 3,000 kg.
How many vehicles does this mandatory measure (winter tire) affect?
This measure applies to all passenger vehicles and taxis registered in Québec, as well as all passenger vehicles rented in Québec. Depending on the number of vehicles registered, it can be estimated that approximately 4.5 million vehicles will be affected by this measure.
However, it is important to note that the definition of passenger vehicle specified in the Regulation respecting road vehicle registration differs from that specified in the Highway Safety Code. The latter stipulates that a passenger vehicle is a “motor vehicle designed for the transportation of not more than nine occupants at a time, where such transportation does not require a permit from the Commission des transports du Québec.” It is therefore very difficult to assess with precision the number of vehicles effected. This is all the more true given that some vehicles that are rented in Québec may be registered outside of Québec.
Are passenger vehicles on long-term lease (12 months or more) ending during the period at issue (December 15 to March 15) exempt from the obligation?
No, except in the seven days prior to termination of the lease contract for a passenger vehicle or taxi (see question 6, item 4) or if it meets the criteria for a certificate (see question 7, item 7).
What about retreaded and remoulded tires?
It is stipulated that until December 15, 2014, tires bearing the inscriptions “Alaska”, "TS" or “Ultratraction” will be recognized as tires specifically designed for winter driving. Winter tires that are remoulded in Québec and that do not bear the pictogram bear one of these inscriptions.
What is the definition of a passenger vehicle under the Regulation governing the use of tires specifically designed for winter driving?
In order to determine what constitutes a passenger vehicle within the meaning of the regulation, the definition set out in the Highway Safety Code must first be respected: “a motor vehicle designed for the transportation of not more than nine occupants at a time, where such transportation does not require a permit from the Commission des transports du Québec.”
Accordingly, vehicles weighing more than 4,500 kg are not generally considered passenger vehicles. Vehicles weighing between 3,000 and 4,500 kg fall under a special category. Indeed, a pick-up truck of more than 3,000 kg used by an individual as a personal vehicle is a passenger vehicle within the meaning of the Code, and the obligation to have winter tires applies. This “category” is managed almost exclusively on a case-by-case basis.