Winter tires compulsory in Germany
Are you already looking forward to your winter sports holiday in Germany or Austria? Do bear in mind that in Germany (even if you drive through it on your way to Austria, for example) you are obliged to have winter tires on your car or camper in winter conditions.
What is meant by 'winter weather conditions'
Several cases in Germany:
slipperiness due to snow or slush
smoothness due to ice or frost formation
There is therefore no fixed period in which you are obliged to drive with winter tires in Germany. Even if it is slippery on German roads in April or October due to snow or ice, you must fit winter tires. If you want to be sure and you are going on holiday to Germany in October or April, fit the compulsory tires from the beginning of October and continue driving until the end of April. It is not legally required to fit tires for winter weather conditions under a caravan or a trailer, but to have more grip on the road and drive more safely, you would do well to do so.
Winter tire requirements in Germany
The types of winter tires that you are allowed/must use are clearly described in German law. Tires purchased from January 1, 2018 must have a snowflake symbol on them. This snowflake symbol consists of a mountain icon with the image of a snowflake inside it. For the time being, it is still allowed to use tires with the designation M+S, if they were produced before 1 January 2018. You can read the production date of the tire on the side. The last four digits of the so-called DOT code indicate in which week and year the tire was produced. The tread depth of the tire must be at least 1.6 millimeters. However, it is recommended to maintain a minimum depth of 4 millimeters.
In addition to using the mandatory winter tires for winter weather conditions, you also have to put chains on your tires on some mountain roads, if the situation calls for it. This is indicated by a blue, round traffic sign with an image of a white car tire with a chain. So don't forget to take snow chains with you when you drive to mountain areas in Germany in winter. The use of plastic chains is permitted, provided they meet the legal requirements. With chains on the tires of your car, the maximum speed is limited to 50 kilometers per hour. So pay close attention to this.
Mandatory winter equipment in your car
When you drive on German roads in winter, you are also obliged to provide full winter equipment in your car. This equipment must enable the driver to obtain maximum visibility on the road in all circumstances. The equipment consists at least of windshield washer fluid with antifreeze and well-functioning windshield wipers. Also make sure that your car windows are properly cleaned, completely free of snow and ice. So take a few ice scrapers and a de-icing agent with you. Driving with improperly cleaned windows can result in a fine.
Fine for incorrect winter tyres
German law provides for severe fines for those who do not comply with the obligations regarding special tires and adequate equipment. You can expect a fine of 60 euros if it turns out that you are driving around with unsuitable tires. The German police are even stricter if you obstruct traffic because you don't have the correct custom tires on your wheels. In such a case you have lost 80 euros. The police can force you to park your car on the side of the road and forbid you to continue driving. If there is nuisance or danger, you will also receive one penalty point per violation. These penalty points are registered in the German driving license register in Flensburg. With 18 penalty points, you are no longer allowed on the road in Germany. If you have a breakdown and need to replace a flat tire, it is allowed to temporarily use a spare wheel with a summer tire. You should then have a suitable tire for winter conditions installed again at the first opportunity.
Risks driving without winter tires in Germany
If you are involved in an accident in Germany and were not driving with the right tires, this can have far-reaching consequences. In that case, the German insurance company of the other party can hold you partially liable for the accident, even if you are not at fault at all. So keep in mind that, depending on the specific circumstances of the accident, the amount of the claim may not be paid out in full.
Would you like more information about driving in winter conditions and whether winter tires are mandatory? You can find additional information on the Holiday in Winterberg website. Here is the link to the article : When are winter tires mandatory in Germany