Equipping vehicles against the snow: a duty for all vehicle drivers?
In germany, the obligation to drive with winter tires is situational, i.e., the road conditions decide.
The onset of winter is a nice event for many people in germany. Although the days are getting shorter and shorter and the temperatures are falling steadily, they are still the chance of snow increases and with it beautiful landscapes and cityscapes. But road users are seldom really happy about this, because wintry conditions can harbor great dangers.
But are winter tires considered absolute obligation in germany? From when must resp. Should these be used? Which winter tires are acceptable and safe? Do M+S tires still meet the winter tire requirement today?? In this guide, we get to the bottom of all the important questions about compulsory winter tires. Here you can find out not only how winter tires with regard to the individual vehicle types are regulated (trucks, motorcycles, trailers, etc.).).
It is also discussed what role a possible winter tire obligation plays in relation to the insurance and joint liability in accidents plays. Furthermore, it is listed whether in the near abroad such duties occur, when fines can be imposed and what influence a flat tire can have.
FAQ: compulsory winter tires in germany
There is only a situational winter tire obligation in this country, d. H. Winter tires are compulsory in the event of "black ice, slippery snow, slush, ice or slippery tires" (§ 2 paragraph 3a stvo), if you want to drive corresponding motor vehicles. The phrase "from O to O" can therefore only serve as a guide and general recommendation.
winter tires that have been used after 31.12.manufactured in 2017 must be equipped with the alpine symbol. the M+S marking is no longer sufficient. For older tires, there is a transitional period until the 30.09.2024.
motorcycles are not covered by the situational winter tire requirement in germany. Anyone riding a motorcycle in winter should therefore drive with particular caution.
Anyone who does not drive with the prescribed tires despite wintry conditions must expect at least a fine of 60 euros and a point in flensburg.
no desire to read? Learn the most important facts about winter tires in the video
compulsory winter tires in the stvo (road traffic regulations)
Since 2010, the stvo has kept more precise information about the winter tires obligation in germany ready. The law prescribes: winter tires, or also tires that are of the directive 92/23/EWG must be used when "black ice, slippery snow, slush, ice or slippery tires" prevail (§ 2 paragraph 3a stvo). Until the end of 2017, it was still sufficient for winter tires to have marked with M+S were.
Since january 2018new winter tires only fulfill the winter tire obligation if they bear the so-called "alpine symbol" alpine symbol can present. this is shown as a three-pronged mountain pictogram with a snowflake in the center. The previously sufficient M+S mark no longer fulfills the requirements for new tires for sale legal requirements. However, there is transitional regulation up to 30. September 2024. winter tires purchased before 2018 with M+S labeling also fulfill the winter tire requirement, until that day. This should relieve consumers, who don’t have to spend money on new winter tires right away.
With regard to the compulsory winter tires, there was a lot of discussion about the minimum tread depth for a long time. does the legislator also require winter tires to be tire tread depth of 1.6 millimeters, car clubs like the ADAC are only satisfied with a depth of four millimeters or more. The main argument here: under this tread depth, let the winter properties of the tires strongly to. However, the legislator has decided against tightening the laws, also because most road users themselves handle decreasing tread depth responsibly.
Although the statistics portal statista reports that the traffic accidents with personal injury due to snow and black ice from 9537 in 2013 to 3499 in 2014 – but that was mainly due to the mild weather this year. In the winter of 2015, there were already 4974 such road accidents. Cold temperatures always cause dangerous weather conditions and consequently for a high risk of accidents, which is why many road users upgrade to winter tires in good time.
For whom and from when are winter tires compulsory?
The question as to when winter tires will be compulsory in germany has already been answered with the above facts. Although in the vernacular the O to O rule fixed (i.e. from october to easter); however, for winter tires there are no official period, which is called by the legislator. because it depends on the weather conditions, not on the time of the year.
The winter tire obligation is influenced by the stvo. It lists the exact weather conditions that require winter tires.
Also, on the subject of winter tires, the following aspects should be considered be known to every road user:
- If there is an infringement of the road traffic regulations because the wrong tires are used in wintry weather, the driver is held accountable – not the owner.
- It must distinguish between winter tires marked M+S and those with an alpine symbol. Only in the case of the latter marking have the respective tires undergone special winter tests.
- The lifespan this special tire is limited. The ADAC recommends winter tires no longer than 6 years to use. Due to material fatigue, these lose too many of their strengths.
Tip: it can be worthwhile, already buying new winter tires in the summer. Because at this time of year, tires are usually a little cheaper than in the fall. But in the summer, some motorists may already have a more or less large hole in their budget due to their summer vacation – and a new set of winter tires is generally a costly investment. What now? If you still want to benefit from lower tire prices in the summer, you can buy z. B. Borrow money from friends or take out a personal loan. If you don’t want to take on these obligations, you have no choice but to wait until the hole in your budget gradually fills up again.
regulations for the individual vehicle variants
As already mentioned, the obligation to have winter tires is always the applicable law if the weather conditions correspond to the circumstances specified in the stvo – this is true for all motor vehicles, but also for similar constructions. These include:
For some of these types of vehicles, the following special features with regard to the winter tire obligation listed.
Single-track vehicles such as motorcycles are no longer subject to the winter tire requirement since the new regulation in 2017.
Winter tires as mandatory: cars, trucks and other types of motor vehicles will be affected.
Under or over 3.5 tons? This applies to trucks
For all trucks with a total weight of less than 3.5 tons, winter tires are mandatory identical to that to which passenger cars are also subject. All axles must in this case be equipped with winter tires suitable for trucks. The situation is different when the total weight of a motor vehicle exceeds 3.5 tons. winter tire obligation applies here for the drive axle only and must be complied with.
But beware! From 2020, winter tires must also be fitted on steering axles, if the appropriate weather conditions are given. read more on winter tires.Net.
As far as tread depth is concerned, trucks are again very similar to passenger cars. The legislator gives itself also satisfied here with 1.6 millimeters. Automobile experts, however, certainly recommend a depth of six to eight millimeters. Here, too, a deeper tread pattern ensures greater grip and better driving characteristics on winter roads.
With regard to the winter tire obligation should truck drivers take a closer look at tire pressure as well. winter tires required generally have a higher air pressure. Also, they should not be too worn or show uneven wear. Last but not least, care must be taken to ensure that mounted tires are of the same type (same size, construction, etc.).).
Are winter tires mandatory for motorcycles?
The law of compulsory winter tires for a long time, even motorcycles were not exempt from this rule. If the winter shows its cold and also wet side, motorcyclists were not allowed before 2017 to have driving through the countryside on summer tires. It is a little more complicated with this type of vehicle with the winter tires also for the following reasons:
- For motorized two-wheelers comparatively few winter wheels offered, not least because of low demand.
- Winter tires for motorcycles must also be fitted with immediate effect have the alpine symbol. Otherwise they do not meet the legal requirements.
Motorcyclists must in any case of the significantly increased risk be aware of what you are facing with a two-wheeler. Such so-called single-track vehicles are rely on a certain friction value, for reasons of driving dynamics alone. If winter weather conditions prevail, the necessary minimum friction is quickly undershot and the accident risk increases drastically – especially for heavy machines with summer tires. However, winter tires are no longer compulsory for single-track vehicles.
Winter tires are obligatory according to stvo – also for trailers?
The winter tire obligation does not apply to trailers – this was also the message in the official letter of the DEKRA (german motor vehicle inspection association) of 29. November 2010. This conclusion can also be drawn on the basis of the road traffic regulations.
There, with regard to the winter tire obligation motor vehicles are – trailers do not fall into this category and form a separate vehicle class. Depending on the type of trailer road users can therefore decide for themselves, what type of tires you think is right.
An unbraked, single-axle trailer very likely to run on snow as desired even with summer tires, if a prudent driving style is displayed. the situation is different with braked trailers. These are not only side guide forces (which occur in curves) exposed, they must also be able to, to brake without blocking. For this type of trailer, and especially for heavy trailers that are to be moved a lot in winter (for example, horse trailers), winter tires can make sense, even if winter tires are not compulsory.
The special case of rental cars
Also in european countries often prevails situational winter tire obligation (more about this in the corresponding section further down in the guide). This is a particularly important issue for winter vacationers who can afford a rental car. And the question arises: are winter tires required always provided by the rental companies or is it regulated differently?
Many car rental companies in germany and europe actually actually equip their vehicles with the necessary tires. However, they are often not legally obliged to do so – in this case, the driver is subject to the obligation to have winter tires, which he must comply with. So if you are caught without winter tires in your rental car, you will also have to responsibility for the fine imposed. Here are some valuable tips:
the law requires winter tires when black ice or snow makes the road unsafe.
- In order not to have to fight an unnecessary legal dispute or pay high fines later on, you should already contact the rental company early and clarify whether winter tires are.
- Calculate with a possible, additional fee. This is often charged in relation to rental cars and winter tires (on a free provision can be through the freedom of contract not be passed)
- Do you receive from the outset, without prior order or. agreement about it, a rented car, which is completely equipped with winter tires, no additional costs may be calculated.
- Basically, you should always read rental contracts carefully, to avoid unpleasant surprises.
- Is there a surcharge for winter tires, this is often determined by the duration of the rental relationship.
even without an engine: cycling in winter
Since the bicycle also not a motor vehicle, winter tires are not compulsory here either. Bicycle lovers who don’t want to do without their bikes in the winter and who want to be on the road quickly and safely can use to upgrade your bike. For this you have different possibilities. For example, the press service bicycle recommends Well-treaded touring or trekking tires. These would be sufficient for casual cyclists to get well through the winter.
The emphasis is basically on the width of the tires, because this offers also in the winter better road grip, if it is larger. For frequent drivers, even more expensive special tires from the specialized trade can be worthwhile here. Some of them have spikes from hard metal (small tips resp. pins incorporated into the rubber) and a special rubber compound. The metal particles bore into the ice-covered ground, so to speak and thus ensure a safe grip as well as an effective transmission of the drive.
Another good tip for bicyclists in winter: it’s worthwhile to do something to let air out of the tubes. This increases the contact area and also improves drive and adhesion. The minimum pressure, which usually placed on the side of the tire is, serves here as an orientation value. Last but not least, when it comes to bicycle tires in winter, it is always worthwhile to have a talk to a professional from the business. There are basically many possibilities.
winter tires: when is not obligatory
Are trucks and buses only affected by the winter tire requirement to the extent that appropriate tires are required? only prescribed on the drive axles is, so are commercial vehicles from the agricultural sector completely excluded from the requirement. Legislator consider the following:
From when is the winter tire obligation valid in germany?? A period there is officially not, the weather decides.
Vehicles of this type do not usually have winter tires, but the existing tires do have such a chunky tire construction (also with regard to the profile), that you considered suitable for winter use become. However, a distinction must be made here: this special privilege does not apply to off-road vehicles or quads with chunky summer tires. So if, for example, you want to rent a quad during your winter vacation, pay attention to the weather conditions and discuss the issue of winter tires with your landlord in good time.
Problems with insurance and compulsory winter tires
In general, road users in winter should be aware of the always stay up to date with the current weather situation. Because this alone determines whether the winter tire obligation applies or not. And compliance with this obligation also has a direct influence on whether the vehicle insurance provides full benefits.
If it comes in wintry weather to a accident with summer tires, if it is very likely that the insurance company will investigate the case with suspicion of gross negligence. If the suspicion cannot be averted, the affected party may face reductions or a complete loss of insurance benefits. This also applies to partial and fully comprehensive insurance with regard to damage to the driver’s own vehicle. For this reason, the federation of insureds (bdv) recommends:
- In the case of comprehensive insurance, only rates be concluded, exclude the reductions related to gross negligence.
- In the event of damage to another vehicle, this can be a particularly saved on insurance premiums and even claimed back benefits already paid become.
- In case of doubt, a change of insurance worth. Good to know: as a rule, a car insurance policy can cover up to 30. November of the respective year be given notice in due time.
Also to liability insurance the obligation to use winter tires big impact have. If an accident occurs in winter weather with summer tires, even the one is obliged to joint liability the driver is not primarily responsible for the accident. Negligence also increases the operating risk when driving a motor vehicle.
This is how it happens in such cases according to a decision of the local court (AG) of trier may well result in a joint liability of 20 per cent. Already the clear violation of § 2 paragraph 3a stvo leads to a presumption of fault on the part of the jurisdiction.
However, such a case is particularly complex: even a driver who, as described above, drives from violate the winter tire requirement of the road traffic regulations and is involved in an accident, does not have to be sentenced to joint liability in every case. Because it is also necessary to determine whether the hazardous situation (in this case, especially related to the winter weather) was recognizable for the driver. Was the situation not foreseeable or if the accident could not have been avoided even without summer tires, there is usually no joint liability according to the applicable case law.
sanctions according to the current catalogue of fines
compulsory winter tires are not reserved for germany alone: other countries also have such requirements. However, switzerland is not one of them.
as a driver of a motor vehicle, you should keep an eye on the weather situation with regard to the winter tire obligation even if, for example on the road with a friend’s car are. Because, as already mentioned, in the event of a violation of the tire regulation, it is not the owner of the vehicle who will be prosecuted, but always the current vehicle driver. Are they used in snowy or icy conditions caught without the prescribed rubber compound, in any case there will be a a fine of 60 euro. Also a point goes on the points account in flensburg.
If this violation of the stvo occurs to a handicap, the fine increases to 80 euro. In the case of endangerment it is even 100 euro. The highest fine follows an accident. The penalty in this case is a full 120 euros. Only the points do not change. In any case, the offender receives a flensburg point.
The responsible parties must not only make sure that they comply with the winter tire obligation with appropriate tires. The winter tires used must also not be too old or too worn out. Since the winter characteristics then strongly diminish, sees the current catalog of fines fines and points for this as well. The special feature with worn tires: both owner and driver receive sanctions.
Winter tires: compulsory in other european countries
germany is not the only country in which the legislator prescribes a situational winter tire obligation. austria also obliges motorists to put on M+S tires in winter conditions. Here even officially a period: from 1. November until 15. April drivers must keep a close eye on the weather conditions and, if necessary, change their equipment accordingly.
In switzerland on the other hand, there are no such regulations, so that even in wintry conditions no compulsory winter tires exists. Instead, the legislator only makes a general recommendation for winter tires. If this equipment is missing and it comes meanwhile to an accident or other form of traffic obstruction, fines can be issued and those affected can also be held jointly liable. According to this, all participants in public transport must act on their own responsibility.
In germany rather uncommon, in bordering countries often prescribed as an extension: snow chains. These are often used in the vicinity of mountains and slopes prescribed, where snow can pile up very high. This is where even tires with the alpine symbol reach their limits. With snow chains, the risk of a car becoming gets stuck in a closed snow cover, much lower. As soon as a corresponding sign appears, such chains must be put on in any case – otherwise there is a risk of a fine.
It turns out that winter tires are not only compulsory in germany. The law exists in this form or in a modified form in other countries as well. to give you an even better overview, here is a table, which compactly shows regulations of some neighboring countries points out.
nation winter tires compulsory snow chains as a supplement
||not required by law
||permitted if the road is covered with snow or ice
||not required by law
||not required by law, but traffic signs can stipulate the use of M+S car tires
||permitted, partly also prescribed by traffic signs, maximum speed is 50 km/h
||not required by law
||allowed, if the road surface is not damaged
||on certain stretches of road winter tires may be required from the 15. November to 31. March be situational obligation (indicated by traffic signs) – some sections are obligatory from 15. October to 15. April, regardless of the weather
||permitted, partly also ordered by traffic signs, maximum speed is 50 km/h
||not prescribed by law, but winter tires are recommended for snow and ice, as are snow chains on the drive wheels
||allowed, for vehicles over 3.5 tons total weight the possession is even mandatory (entry can be prevented without)
||not required by law
||allowed if the road is covered with snow or ice
||required by law as in germany, may also be required by traffic signs
||permitted if the road is covered with snow or ice
The particular situation of the flat tire
compulsory winter tires in germany do not include snow chains. These are used above all near salvages and hang ups.
Winter tires in germany: now you know when they become compulsory. But how does it look like, if a flat tire occurs on the road? Must the spare tire also be winterized? In this case the legislator tolerant. When changing tires after a puncture, summer tires may also be used as a replacement tire.
Who drives after the change with the car or similar, must therefore also fear no sanctions. However, the use of such a spare tire is considered a mere emergency solution.
not only applies the rule, so that only continue your journey with caution; as soon as the opportunity arises, the driver of the vehicle is obliged to mount a further winter tires as a replacement to mount.
Already known? In some countries, especially in the winter months, alternative tires are also used so-called studs are used (for example in denmark from 1. November to 15. April). As with equivalent bicycle tires it is a matter of car tires in which metal pins have been incorporated. In germany, however, these special tires are largely banned, with the exception of a limited zone near the border with austria.
Are summer tires generally prohibited?
Quickly the impression arises that summer tires in the winter are in principle under punishment. Here must however precisely differentiated as a spare tire. Anyone who avoids driving in wintry conditions, can drive with summer tires even in deep winter without fear of fines and points.
Particularly in regions where the winter weather is often mild, motorists benefit from this regulation. Have your car permanently parked in winter, or, for example, own a classic car, you can under certain circumstances, do not use winter tires at all. If it comes in a mild winter but then the sudden snowstorm, can always be temporarily switched to public transport if necessary.