PIRELLI: HOW TO TRAVEL SAFELY AND LEGALLY IN WINTER
A GUIDE TO THE RULES THROUGHOUT EUROPE AND HOW TO CHOOSE BETWEEN WINTER AND ALL SEASON TYRES
Milan, 21 October 2021 - More and more European countries have rules about winter driving and the use of winter tyres, distinguished by various different markings M + S (Mud + Snow) or other different systems non-slip. Knowing the rules that each country adopts is vital when it comes to travelling safely and avoiding traffic fines. France is also adopting its own legislation this winter (the loi montagne) effective from 1 November in some areas of the country.
DIFFERENT RULES FOR EVERY COUNTRY
When travelling across national borders, it’s important to contact the authorities of each state to know precise information on local regulations, but it’s still useful to have a brief overview of how different European countries regulate driving in winter, both for safe travel and to avoid fines.
Austria: from 1 November to 15 April, winter tyres with M+S markings are mandatory with a tread depth of at least 4mm or ÖNORM V 5117/5119-approved chains can be used on the driven wheels in icy or snowy conditions.
Belgium: there is no requirement for winter tyres.
Bulgaria: from 15 November to 1 March, winter tyres with M+S and 3PMSF (three peak mountain snowflake with a stylised mountain logo) markings are mandatory or summer tyres with a tread depth of at least 4mm.
Croatia: from 15 November to 15 April it is obligatory to fit M+S winter tyres with a tread depth of at least 4mm – or to carry chains in case of snow.
Estonia: from 1 December to 1 March, M+S winter tyres with a tread depth of at least 3mm are mandatory or tyres can also be fitted with chains on snow-covered roads.
Finland: from 1 November to 31 March, M+S winter tyres with a tread depth of at least 3mm are mandatory with winter conditions.
France: in 42 Alpine departments, it’s compulsory to have tyres with M+S or 3PMSF markings (or have chains on board) from 1 November to 31 March.
Germany: in winter conditions (without reference to specific months of the year) it’s mandatory to fit tyres with 3PMSF markings or carry chains. Tyres with only M+S markings produced up to 2017 can be used until September 30, 2024.
Italy: from 15 November to 15 April, tyres with M+S markings are mandatory on certain roads – or snow chains must be carried as an alternative.
Lithuania: from 10 November to 1 April, tyres with M+S markings and at least 3mm of tread depth (or chains in case of snow) are required by law.
Luxembourg: winter tyres with M+S markings or snow chains (to be carried on board) are mandatory with snow or ice.
Netherlands: the use of winter tyres is not required and the use of snow chains is prohibited.
Portugal: winter tyres are not compulsory.
United Kingdom: the use of winter tyres is not mandatory and chains or spiked tyres are allowed only when they do not damage the road surface, in snowy or icy conditions only.
Czech Republic: from 1 November to 31 March, winter tyres with M+S markings and a tread depth of at least 4mm is mandatory in case of snow.
Romania: in snow, ice or winter conditions, winter tyres with M+S markings are mandatory. If roads are covered with snow or ice, chains can also be used.
Serbia: from 1 November to 1 April, M+S winter tyres with at least 4mm of tread depth are required by law outside of built-up areas. Snow chains can be carried as an alternative.
Slovakia: from 15 November to 31 March, winter tyres with M+S markings are required by law (with 3mm of upper tread).
Slovenia: from 15 November to 15 March, or whenever there is snow on the road, M+S or 3PMSF winter tyres are mandatory. Chains are allowed as an alternative in case of snow.
Spain: M+S winter tyres can be used on at least the driven wheels with snow on the road under request by authorities. Chains can be used wherever permitted always with a maximum speed of 50kph.
Sweden: winter tyres with 3PMSF markings are mandatory from 1 December to 31 March. M+S marked tyres can be used until 30 November 2024.
Switzerland: the use of winter tyres is recommended from October to April, while chains can only be used in case of snow or ice.
SO WHAT NEXT: WINTER OR ALL SEASON?
Is the best option an all-season tyre that stays on the car all year round, or a dedicated set of winter tyres? There are many options, but the right solution depends on how much distance the car covers and how it is used during the winter, where the driver lives, and, of course, the type of car itself. All these considerations come into play: all-season are a result of a precise balance able to function all year, but a specific winter tyre remains preferable for the most severe weather conditions. The most important thing is to ensure that there’s an M+S or 3PMSF marking on the sidewall that denotes the tyre is suitable for winter conditions: avoiding fines and guaranteeing safety even in winter.
WINTER FOR THE DYNAMIC DRIVER
Winter tyres are preferable for drivers who cover big distances during the winter and are looking for the best possible performance in all cold-weather conditions. Thanks to their softer compound, which performs strongly even when temperatures are very low, winter tyres guarantee excellent road holding, optimal traction and safe braking on any type of surface, even with low grip. The chemical characteristics of winter tyre compounds allow shorter braking distances on snow-covered roads, where braking gets better by over 50% compared to a summer tyre. The specific tread pattern of a winter tyre also contributes to performance: in particular thanks to the sipes, whose main purpose is to collect and retain the snow inside them, improving grip with the ‘snow on snow friction’ effect, which allows maximum mobility without using snow chains. On top that, the generously-sized grooves allow for rapid and effective water dispersal, eliminating the danger of aquaplaning and maximising safety.
Pirelli offers a complete range of winter tyres. For the most powerful cars, the P Zero Winter is available, while the new Cinturato Winter 2 is aimed at drivers of city, urban and crossover cars. The Winter Sottozero 3 is an original equipment tyre aimed at high-end premium cars, while the Scorpion Winter is available for the latest-generation SUVs and CUVs. Carrier Winter is for vans and light trucks.
ALL SEASON FOR THE EVERYDAY URBAN DRIVER
All season tyres have become the preferred choice for many motorists who live in cities with temperate climates away from mountainous regions, and who aren’t particularly looking for sporting performance. Thanks to is unique design and make-up, an All Season tyre represents a targeted balance capable of operating at both high and low temperatures, as well as on wet and dry asphalt, delivering versatile overall performance. This type of tyre doesn’t offer the ultimate performance of summer tyres in summer, or winter tyres in winter, but still represents an excellent compromise in a wide variety of situations.
Pirelli has an ample range of All Season tyres, covering every category of car. The new Cinturato All Season SF2 meets the needs of car owners with tyre sizes between 15 and 20 inches, who want a year-round solution mainly for urban areas. The Scorpion Verde All Season SF is available for crossovers and SUVs, while the Carrier All Season tyre is dedicated to vans and light commercial vehicles, completing the All Season family.