Tyre advice for driving abroad on skiing holidays

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British skiers driving to Europe can significantly reduce the risk of an accident by making sure their tyres are safe to tackle adverse weather conditions.

Snow and ice-covered roads can make driving conditions treacherous and motorists need to have good levels of tread depth to maintain traction and vehicle control.

Winter tyres are regarded by many seasoned drivers and safety organisations as the safest option. Winter tyres are also a legal requirement in certain European countries, while others strongly recommend their use.

Not only can skiers risk an abrupt end to their trip if driving heavily laden cars with incorrect tyre pressures or low tread depth on icy, snow-covered roads, they also face heavy penalties and invalidated insurance if they are involved in an accident and their tyres are not safe and legal.

The onus is on the motorist to be aware of the legal tyre requirements when they are driving abroad, not just for the country they are visiting, but also those being driven through. Road laws vary across Europe, as does the equipment motorists need to carry in their vehicle and anyone caught flouting the legislation could face on-the-spot fines, have their vehicle confiscated and their insurance invalidated.

For example, Germany introduced a new law in 2010 stating that all cars and motorbikes must be fitted with winter tyres or all season tyres (which have the M&S symbol on their sidewall) on all axles when conditions are wintery (that is slushy, snowy or icy).

Likewise, in Austria, any vehicle that has a maximum weight of 3.5 tonnes, can only drive in winter conditions between 1 November and 15 April, if it is fitted with winter tyres. An all-season tyre which carries the the “M + S” mark on the sidewall, is considered a suitable alternative.

Motorists are advised to check with their travel agent for the latest up-to-date legislation or to go to the Foreign & Commonweath Office website at http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/ and search under tyres for the country/countries they are interested in.

etyres supply and fit a wide range of winter tyres to suit all budgets and although some drivers use them all year round, others pay a nominal fee to switch back to their regular tyres during the spring and summer months.

Denna Bowman, Head Office

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