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Slow down! Bitter cold in Quebec will cause poor driving conditions

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MONTREAL -

The sun may be shining and salt may be on the cleared street, but motorists are advised to use extreme caution during this weekend's bitter cold in Quebec.

"Although the roads are clear and visibility is good, road users should be cautious on the road today and over the next few days because of the bitter cold weather that reduces tire traction," said Ministry of Transport media relation director Louis-Andre Bertrand in a news release. "This is especially true in the morning when the ground has not yet absorbed the sun's heat."

Salt, the ministry reminds, is not as effective once the road temperature drops below -12 Celsius, and though abrasives, such as sand or sawdust, is better below -15 C as it will increase grip, they will not melt the snow or ice.

TIRES, THE SOFTER THE BETTER

All tires are not built the same.

Those working in the garage swapping tires at Goodleaf's Auto and Tire on Route 138 on Montreal's South Shore in Kahnawake have seen all sizes, styles and types of tires.

Owner and operator Brian Goodleaf said, like salt, some cheaper winter tires are far less effective in the cold.

"After a certain temperature a lot of the winter tires are ineffective because of the compounds," said Brian Goodleaf. "The softer ones are very good, the harder ones are very ineffective."

Tires are primarily rubber, but also include compounds such as synthetic rubber, steel, antioxidants, silica, and even plastic and kevlar in certain brands.

Goodleaf said cheaper tires, often imported from Asia and warmer climates, are not ready for winter temperatures like the ones forecast in Quebec this weekend.

"They're not really designed for North American winters," said Goodleaf.

He said you pay for what you get, and those looking to scrimp on a set of new tires may be both replacing them more often and risking their safety.

"People think 'I've got four brand new tires on my car, I'm invincible,' but they don't realize what they've got," said Goodleaf. "It's not really safe at all."

The Ministry of Transport is reminding drivers to keep their distance, slow down and consult Quebec 511 for warnings in effect. 

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