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Don’t get hit with these three traffic tickets this winter

Dec. 16, 2022
5 mins
A man in winter clothing uses a cell phone and calls for assistance for his broken down vehicle

There’s no shortage of expenses and hazards that come with winter driving. Getting your winter tires installed, shovelling your car out of the driveway, clearing it off before you hit the road, and driving in slippery conditions are just some of the things Canadian drivers have to deal with during the winter season.

These issues aren’t just a downside to living in a cold country, though. If you don’t take them seriously, they could also affect your driving record and your insurance rate.

Here are three of the most common winter traffic tickets and how they could impact your driving record, your auto insurance rate, and your wallet.

Not driving with winter tires

When the weather is frightful, you need to make sure your car is equipped to drive safely and slowly. Winter tires are essential for this. They’re designed specifically to help you maintain traction and control when driving in snowy and icy conditions. Without them, you could end up in a dangerous situation and, in certain provinces, be fined.

British Columbia is one such province where this rule is enforced every year from October 1 to March 31. During this time, you must have winter tires when driving on the province’s highways or you can be fined $121. You can also get a ticket if you do have winter tires, but they’re in bad condition. So, it’s essential to keep up with your winter tire maintenance.

A winter tire ticket could affect your insurance premium. If you wind up in an accident and don’t have winter tires installed, it could mean that you’re at-fault for the crash if the insurance company determines that winter tires could have prevented the crash, or at least made it less severe. That at-fault claim would likely increase your premium upon renewal.

There’s really no benefit to going without winter tires. They keep you safe and in most provinces, they’ll typically earn you a 5% discount on your annual premium. Just don’t try to pretend you have winter tires to get this discount. If you file a claim and your insurance provider discovers that you didn’t have winter tires on during the dates your policy stipulated you must, it could deny your claim. If you’d been receiving a winter tire discount, it could also increase your insurance rate to gain back the money it discounted you.

Driving carelessly in poor conditions

Another offence that can get you a fine in every province is speeding or driving recklessly in bad weather.

Speed limits are determined based on how safe it is to travel in ideal road conditions. When inclement weather makes roads slippery, slushy, or icy, you’re expected to adjust accordingly. If you don’t, you could risk a ticket.

Alberta takes this offence very seriously, and hands out tickets for dangerous driving in the winter. The province will also ticket you for not taking other safety precautions, including, not turning on your high beams during poor visibility conditions.

Speeding in any province will earn you a fine, so check your province’s Ministry of Transportation website to learn more. A speeding or poor driving ticket goes on your driving record and can negatively affect your insurance premium when it’s up for renewal.

Parking in a snow route

Everyone who owns a car should be aware of the snow routes in their area. Parking in a snow route can cost you big time and there’s also the risk of your car being towed.

Every municipality has its own set of rules around snow routes, but most include general instructions of not parking your car in certain places on specific days or times of year when the city needs to clear snow or ice. Toronto, for instance, sets the fine at $200 for parking on roads designated as snow routes. And Edmonton recently increased fines for those who park on streets with winter parking bans, from $100 to $250.

Though getting a ticket for parking on a snow route isn’t good for your wallet, it shouldn’t affect your insurance premium. Parking tickets don’t have the same impact on insurance rates that speeding or careless driving tickets do.

Driving in winter can be scary. Prepare yourself and your vehicle to drive slowly and cautiously so that you can avoid accidents, tickets, and insurance premium increases.

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Sabina Wex

Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto.

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