How to Get a Grip on Safe Winter Traction

Have you ever seen overshoes, ice cleats or the old-style rubber covers people used to wear over their dress shoes to prevent slips and falls on ice?

Did you know you can apply that same idea to your vehicle?   Here’s a rundown of some traction devices that can help keep you and your vehicle travel surely and smoothly along in winter.


We recommend drivers install mountain/snowflake tires for cold weather driving and, for extreme conditions, carry chains and know how to use them.  If used, chains are installed on the tires of a vehicles primary drive axle.  Steel link chains provide the best traction in snow and ice and prevent lateral slippage.

There are also cable style chains available. Cable chains do not deliver the same lateral traction as steel link chains as vehicles can actually slide on sloped curves.

Studded Tires

Similar to ice cleats for shoes or boots, studded tires have raised metal nubs that dig into icy or snowy roads.  The studs should not stick out more than two millimetres from the tread or the traction surface of the tire.  Because they’re tough on bare pavement, they can only be used from Oct. 1 to April 30.  (If you use them beyond that date, you could get a fine!)

If you’re driving with studded tires, it’s ideal to have them on all four wheels, for even traction. They can be installed on the rear wheels only, but never on the front wheels only. Check this excerpt from the British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act for more about this type of traction.

Textile Tire Cover (aka “Snow Socks”)

Think of how snow and ice stick to woolen mittens. It’s the same thing with textile tire covers (also known as snow socks). When the covers have been placed over your tires, the material (and your vehicle) wants to adhere to the road. You’re on bare pavement though, the fabric wears down fast, so you’ll want to slip those socks off soon after you reach asphalt.


Most commercial vehicles must carry chains on most major highways, and to know how to install them. It is good practice to keep chains on board at all times.

We recommended that commercial vehicles use steel link chains as they have been proven to provide superior traction and prevent lateral slippage. Cable style chains are permitted only if used in conjunction with steel link chains which have been installed on the outside of a drive axle. Cable chains do not provide enough traction on roads with banked curves on their own and can actually cause a vehicle to slide.

Automatic Tire Chains

Automatic tire chains can be installed and removed from the safety and comfort of the driver’s seat, eliminating the need for manual installation of chains. Talk about convenient!

Wheel Sander

A wheel sander system puts down grit in front of your tires to increase traction. Handy!

Giving your tires a little help during the snowy, icy and slippery time of year, is an option to help you stay safe and on the road.  It feels good to have your tires – like your feet – firmly on the ground.


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2 Responses to How to Get a Grip on Safe Winter Traction

  1. Nick Thomas on October 20, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    You might want to check the legend on the tire chain configurations PDF. There are two symbols labeled ‘driving axle (with chains)’ and I think the lower one should read ‘driving axle (WITHOUT chains)’

    • tranbceditor on October 23, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      Good catch Nick – thanks! We are working on updating right now.

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