No winter tires for Uber cars in Ottawa causes concern

Published: January 2, 2018

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



Most people agree that installing winter tires can have a profoundly positive effect on driving during the cold season. Vehicles become easier to handle and conditions more manageable, provided other road laws are observed. But how does the lack of winter tires potentially affect your ride home in an Uber car?

While winter tires are a good choice, they are not mandatory in Ontario or any other province aside from Quebec. Snow tires will not be mandatory in Ontario any time soon, according to provincial Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca. However, there is an auto insurance discount model in the province that lets customers receive less premiums when installing winter tires.

The fact still remains many Uber drivers will be on icy roads, snow covered roads, and face other hazards this winter without snow tires installed.

"Whether it be snow, ice, or black ice for that matter, having winter tires will offer you better control of your vehicle," said Ottawa police spokesperson Const. Marc Soucy. "If it's snowy, it's icy and you don't have winter tires, you're going to need more space and time to react or to have enough space to stop your vehicle."

It is interesting to note, while customers can choose to have snow tires or not in Ontario, some municipalities are mandating Uber drivers to install them. Toronto and Mississauga require ride-sharing vehicles to install winter tires. Passengers in these cities can have extra peace of mind this cold season if they see a snowflake symbol (which denotes winter-ready rubber) on their Uber ride.

Indeed, if customers in Toronto and Mississauga don’t see this symbol on their Uber ride, they should ask why not, report the driver to Uber, and not take the ride.

While those two municipalities have set down laws, the nation’s capital has not. There is no winter tire mandate for Uber drivers in Ottawa. As for Uber, the company is taking a typically diplomatic line without really pushing its drivers to do anything.

Susie Heath, spokesperson for Uber Canada, told CBC News the company expects drivers to follow safety laws. Of course, the company would not advocate law breaking. However, what about in Ottawa, where drivers are not compelled by law? Should Uber enforce its own winter tire mandate in its terms and conditions?