By Oliver Hall
German motorists will be forced to ensure their vehicles are equipped with tyres for driving in mud and snow this winter, according to the transport minister.
Peter Ramsauer has announced that the safety crackdown is intended to close the existing loophole under which the requirements for winter tyres are vague.
In an interview with daily newspaper Bild, he confirmed that he would make the owners of vehicles, including transport companies, strictly responsible for making sure tyres were safe.
He said: “We have to act quickly. It cannot be that a free pass is given for dangerously sliding on ice. The provisions of the road traffic regulation are therefore being overhauled. We will, on an interim basis, introduce an obligation to use winter tyres. Anyone who drives in snow and mud during winter with unsuitable tyres is endangering themselves and others.”
The national winter tyre regulation would apply until a European regulation with uniform criteria came into effect, which was expected at the earliest in 2011, Ramsauer said.
As the law stands currently it has been left up to manufacturers as to whether or not tyres are labelled suitable for winter driving in snow and mud – which they can do even if the tyres don’t meet the specifications.