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Studded tires allowed on northern Ontario roads

Lisa Varano, staff writer

December 17, 2010 — Why are studded tires permitted in northern Ontario, but not in southern Ontario? Chris Dawson reports for The Weather Network in North Bay.

Studded tire on North Bay ambulance
Studded tire on North Bay ambulance

During the winter, the roads can quickly turn treacherous in Ontario, particularly in northern parts of the province. Drivers in the region can use special tires on the icy and snowy roads -- but not just any kind of studded tires.

Lightweight, Scandinavian-style tires are allowed. Older types of studded tires are not. They were banned in Ontario in 1972.

“Those older-style studded tires cause quite a lot of damage to the road, such as rutting -- or creating ruts in the pavement -- and, as a result, they were banned,” says Becca Lane of Ontario's Ministry of Transportation.

Studded tires can improve traction and keep vehicles from sliding, say drivers who use them. In North Bay, Ontario, ambulances are equipped with winter tires, and local paramedics say that makes them feel safer on the roads.

Winter roadway in North Bay
Winter roadway in North Bay

Although southern Ontario gets its share of wintry weather and driving conditions can be dangerous, studded tires are not allowed in that part of the province.

But there is an exception. Vehicles from northern Ontario can drive in southern Ontario with studded tires from October 1 to April 30.

Drivers in southern Ontario are frequently encouraged to have winter tires, but it is ultimately left to the discretion of every motorist.

“In some areas, we may not even get snow, so mandating winter tires wouldn't be appropriate. We don't really have any plans at present to mandate snow tires, or winter tires or studded tires anywhere in Ontario. We prefer that Ontarians have the choice,” says Lane.

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