Winter tires – in which countries are they compulsory? What about all season tires?

In Poland, there is no obligation to drive winter tires on winter tires, although there is a regulation saying that “a vehicle participating in the traffic must be built, equipped and maintained in such a way that its use does not endanger the safety of people driving it or other road users, does not violate the traffic order. on the road and without harming anyone. ” In practice, as long as we do not cause an accident or at least a threat, there is no penalty for driving with bald summer tires on a snowy road.

Winter tires are compulsory abroad. And year-round?

In most countries of our continent, and especially in the countries of our region, there is some form of mandatory equipment of the car with winter tires. Some form, that is: either an order to use winter tires given in the calendar, or as a ban on driving summer tires in snow.

And what about all-season tires, which in Poland, but not only, have already gained a dozen or so percent. passenger car tire market? Well, all-season tires, if they bear the 3PMSF symbol (a snowflake on the background of three mountain peaks), are treated as winter tires in every, without exception, EU country. With all-season tires on wheels, we fulfill the obligation to drive on winter tires!

Fun fact: Tires that only bear the M + S symbol are slightly different: in some countries where winter tires are required, M + S tires meet the regulatory requirements. However, this is not the case in every country and it is the right approach as not every tire with the M + S symbol is a winter tire!

Compulsory winter tires: what is it like in the neighboring countries of Poland?

As a rule, our neighbors must use winter-approved tires in winter (as above: all-season tires with the 3PMSF symbol meet these conditions).

  • Czech Republic – obligation to use winter tires from November 1 to March 31 in winter conditions, it is enough to mark the tires M + S. Winter conditions are: snow, ice, mud or temperature below 4 degrees C. Tires are to be at least 4 mm deep (the requirements for vehicles above 3.5 t are higher).
  • Lithuania – winter tires compulsory from November 10 to March 31.
  • Latvia – winter tires compulsory from December 1 to March 1 for vehicles up to 3.5 tons and their trailers. The minimum tread depth is 4 mm.
  • Germany – winter tires compulsory in winter conditions, without specifying the period in which this obligation applies. In other words, it is a (really enforced!) Obligation to adapt tires to road conditions.

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Compulsory winter tires: what is it like in the countries west of Poland?

In practice, in winter, driving west on summer tires – even if there are weather-dependent regulations in individual countries – is risky. The weather is changing and local drivers who do not want to buy winter tires can leave the car at home. A tourist traveling through a given country does not have such a possibility!

  • Austria: winter tires compulsory from November 1 to April 15, depending on the prevailing weather conditions. Snow chains are recommended for those going up the mountains – they are compulsory on many marked, steep stretches of road. The fine for the use of tires that do not match the conditions is up to 5,000. euro!
  • Switzerland – winter tires are recommended (i.e. the obligation depends on road conditions) from November 1 to April 30. In the event of a collision with a vehicle not equipped with appropriate tires, a driver driving on summer tires may be liable for the incident.
  • France – This year the regulations were tightened: from November 1 to March 31, winter tires are mandatory in mountain towns (Alps, Corsica, Central Massif, Jura Massif, Pyrenees, Vosges Massif). The obligation to use winter tires applies to 34 departments in the country, i.e. a large part of it. The maximum fine for non-compliance with the obligation is EUR 375, additionally the car can be towed to the parking lot.
  • Italy – there are no uniform regulations throughout the country. For example, winter tires are compulsory in South Tyrol on the roads in Bolzano and on the A22 motorway from Brenner to Affi from November 15 to April 15, regardless of the weather. In Aosta Valley, winter tires are required from October 15 to April 15. In other regions, the requirement to use winter tires or chains may be imposed by signs.

Compulsory winter tires: what is it like in the countries north of Poland?

The formal requirements for winter tires are not more stringent in the Nordic countries than in Central Europe, but in practice most drivers use winter tires, and these are tires specially adapted for use in cold, snow and ice conditions. In the past, studded tires were used more often, now a good standard is soft compound tires, rare in Poland, providing excellent grip on ice. In such an environment, having good winter tires is imperative!

  • Estonia – winter tires compulsory from December 1 to March 1.
  • Finland – winter tires are compulsory from November 1 to March 31. Recommended tread depth – 5 mm or more, minimum tread depth – 3 mm.
  • Norway – there is no obligation to use winter tires, but in winter conditions, cars with summer tires must be equipped with chains – winter tires exempt from the obligation to use chains.
  • Sweden – winter tires are compulsory from December 1 to March 31. Important: also trailers towed by vehicles up to 3.5 tons must be equipped with winter tires.

Winter tires compulsory: what is it like in the countries south of Poland?

  • Croatia – winter tires required on certain routes marked with road signs; the minimum tread depth for winter tires is 4 mm.
  • Bulgaria – winter tires recommended from November 15 to March 1.
  • Serbia – winter tires compulsory from November 1 to April 1 in winter conditions, on some sections regardless of the weather; the minimum tread depth is 4 mm.
  • Hungary – regulations similar to Polish ones, winter tires are not obligatory.

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