Motorists heading to Europe for a skiing holiday should check out their car tyres before leaving home to ensure they are ‘snow safe’.
New legislation could mean holidaymakers are driving illegally or call their insurance policy into question.
Snow tyres are mandatory in Switzerland and since May 2006 German motorists have been required by law to use the most appropriate tyres for their weather conditions. In effect, this means most drivers keep two sets of tyres – ‘winter’ tyres for the colder months when many roads are snow covered and ‘summer’ tyres for the rest of the year. An alternative is to fit ‘all season’ tyres which are legal all year.
In Germany, if during the winter months a vehicle becomes stuck because the tyres are unsuitable, drivers are liable to an on the spot fine. If the vehicle causes an obstruction and aggravation to other traffic, the fine may be doubled. The fine may not refer specifically to the fitment of ‘incorrect’ tyres, but could relate to the fact that the vehicle could not make normal progress in ‘inclement’ conditions.
The AA recommend a minimum tread depth of 2mm, but advise motorists to consider changing tyres before they travel if the tread depth is down to 3mm, this is because tyres wear out quickly after they reach 3mm.
However, if in doubt about current tyre legislation, motorists should contact their travel agent, holiday company rep or insurance company for advice.