Goodyear guide to driving in winter in Europe 2023/24
Goodyear guide to driving in winter in Europe 2023/24
Whether you are a local or a tourist taking a scenic winter driving holiday, it's not always easy to know what tire legislation might exist in different European regions, and the arrival of colder temperatures and harsh weather conditions can make driving during the winter period difficult and daunting. Goodyear has produced a helpful guide for European drivers to navigate through the often-complex tire regulations in each country.
Optimized to perform at their best when temperatures dip below 7°C, winter tires prioritize both traction and braking performance over summer tires and are designed to clear more water to stop aquaplaning. Winter tires will usually be marked on the sidewall with M+S and/or the ‘Alpine’ symbol (3-Peak Mountain Snow Flake, or 3PMSF). An M+S tire is specifically designed with a tread pattern, tread compound, or construction intended to excel in mud and/or snow conditions, outperforming regular tires in its capability to initiate and manage vehicle motion. Tires marked by the 3PMSF symbol undergo a special snow grip test and must receive type approval in accordance with UN Regulation No. 117.
Winter tire regulations
If you are driving in Europe this winter, it’s important to stay up to date with the differing winter tire regulations; whether they are mandatory or recommended. The failure to know where and when to fit winter-ready tires could result in costly penalties or, more crucially, contribute to the increased risk of a dangerous road traffic accident.
In addition to winter tires, drivers should remember to adhere to other safety tips. These include checking your car over before you set off on a journey and inspecting tires for tread depth and pressures; grip is affected by under and over-inflated tires. Drivers should adapt their driving style to the prevailing conditions and slow down in colder, more slippery conditions.
Crucial elements of the relevant regulations, as they stand today1, appear below. It is important to note that it is the driver’s responsibility to determine the most up-to-date winter tire rules during a trip in each region or country.
In France, M+S or 3PMSF-marked winter tires or snow chains are mandatory from 1 November to 31 March in 34 French départements, situated in mountain regions such as the Alps, the Massif Central, and the Pyrenees. Signs are displayed at the entrance and exit of each mandated département to clearly signal the need for winter tires and/or snow chains.
Currently, M+S-marked tires fulfil this obligation, but from 1 November 2024, only winter tires with the 3PMSF marking will be permitted in these regions.
Germany introduced a legal requirement to equip vehicles with 3PMSF-marked tires, in winter conditions, in 2017. A transitional phase currently permits the continued use of M+S-marked tires manufactured before 1 January 2018, with this allowance set to expire on 30 September 2024.
Unlike in France, there is no defined date period when winter tire legislation applies, and you are only legally mandated to fit winter tires if the weather conditions require it. The use of snow chains does not fulfil this requirement.
Winter tires or snow chains are mandatory in several areas in Italy based on the sections of the highway and ordinary roads2 marked with road signs showing the text: obbligo di pneumatici invernali o catene a bordo (obligation to have winter tires or chains on board).
In general, this obligation is applicable from 15 November to 15 April, subject to exceptions. For instance, in northwestern Italy, in the Aosta Valley region, winter tires are mandatory between the 15 October and 15 April. In Bozen/South Tyrol winter tires are always compulsory in the case of snow, ice or similar weather conditions. Tires marked with the M+S symbol or the 3PMSF symbol are legal here.
Similarly to the Italian legislation, winter tires, or the use of snow chains, are only mandatory in Spain on roads marked by a specific road sign, or in the case of a specific public authority order. In Spain, tires are considered as winter tires if they are M+S or 3PMSF-marked; studded tires are not allowed.
The rest of Europe
In the rest of Europe, time periods and the required winter tire markings differ depending on the country, so it is the driver’s responsibility to check the relevant rules for the country that they are driving in.
Other European countries where the fitment of winter tires is legally mandatory are Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Slovenia and Turkey.
If you live or are driving in Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Kosovo, Luxembourg, Norway, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia or Sweden you are only legally mandated to fit winter tires if the weather conditions require it. For example, in Austria, between 1 November and 15 April winter tires or snow chains must be fitted when roads are covered in snow, slush or ice, but in other conditions during this period, there is no legal obligation. In addition, winter tires must have a minimum tread depth of 4mm.
In Albania, Andorra, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Georgia, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, Ukraine or the United Kingdom it is not mandatory to change your tires during the winter period. However, to ensure maximum safety, Goodyear recommends that drivers, where possible, drive with tires that are suitable for all conditions, given the unpredictable nature of winter weather conditions. Goodyear's award-winning range of all-season and winter tires ensure drivers can travel with more confidence, in any region, and challenging weather conditions.
If you are visiting Europe during the coming winter months, be sure to check with the relevant authority in each destination country, as well as the department or region of your stay, to determine the most up-to-date winter tire rules during your visit.
1Status as of publication date of this news
About The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
Goodyear is one of the world's largest tire companies. It employs about 74,000 people and manufactures its products in 57 facilities in 23 countries around the world. Its two Innovation Centers in Akron, Ohio, and Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg, strive to develop state-of-the-art products and services that set the technology and performance standard for the industry. For more information about Goodyear and its products, go to www.goodyear.com/corporate.