Tyres advice to motorists driving abroad this winter

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If you are planning on driving to Europe for a skiing trip or winter holiday, you can significantly reduce the risk of an accident by making sure your tyres are safe to tackle sub-zero weather conditions.

And in some countries winter tyres are a legal requirement, not just for residents, but for tourists too.

The onus is on you to make sure you know the legal tyre requirements for not just for the country you are visiting, but also those you might be driving through.

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).

Failure to do so can incur a fine of 40 Euro and one point on your licence. This will increase to 80 Euro and one point if you cause an obstruction and double.

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. Again failure to comply with the law could result in a fine of between 36 and 5,000 Euros and the vehicle being impounded.

In France and Italy the use of winter tyres is recommended and in Scandinavia the same guidance is issued in Norway and Sweden, however, in Finland cold weather tyres are mandatory from 1st December to 28 February (although it is usually necessary to use winter tyres beyond the legal requirement as roads remain icy well into April.

Visitors to Slovakia are strongly recommended to fit winter tyres to cope with severe driving conditions. Winter tyres are not compulsory, however, when an accident occurs and one vehicle has normal tyres the official presumption is that it is at fault.

It is also important to point out that failure to comply with these international laws could invalidate your insurance if you are involved in an accident.

So make sure you check legislation for the country you are heading to – or driving through – in order to avoid costly penalties or invalidating your insurance.

etyres supply and fit a comprehensive range of winter tyres to suit every budget, including Bridgestone, Hankook, Michelin and Continental. We fit them at your home, which gives you the added convenience of being able to store your all season tyres in your garage or shed.

We have put together this short feature to give you an general overview of the EU winter tyre laws. However, we advise you to check with your 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 you are interested in.

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