Winter tyres are now compulsory

Winter tyres are now compulsory
1/11/2017Press releases

The Road Traffic Act defines the obligation to start using winter tyres from November 1 to March 31. In this period the vehicle must have winter tyres whenever there is a continuous layer of snow, ice or frost on the road surface, or whenever these phenomena can be expected due to climate conditions.

Winter tyres are now compulsory

"Do not wait until there is ice or snow on the road and change for winter tyres on time. It's not just about the duty stipulated by the law, but about safety – the safety of the driver and other people," appeals the head of a separate department of BESIP Martin Farář to drivers. It is certainly not a mistake to change for winter tyres already when the average day temperatures is around 7°C or below. It is already with these values when winter tyres are better than summer tyres. They are made of another softened mix, have a different tread pattern, ensure better water and snow slurry drainage and have better engaging properties. Thanks to this they allow us to achieve better contact with the frozen road surface, the adhesive capacity of which is far from that when dry and warm.

The regulation takes also those drivers into account who use their vehicle very rarely and only for short journeys during the winter. These occasional drivers can use the road for example when going to the doctor or shopping without winter tyres, but only on the condition that there is no continuous layer of snow, ice or frost on the road. Otherwise they must have winter tyres as well. In this respect, the driver is also responsible for himself/herself and for other road users as well.

The Ministry of Transport warns that besides the global requirement for winter tyres, drivers must still count with the traffic sign "Winter Equipment". Municipalities can place this traffic sign on their territory. Where the "Winter Equipment" traffic sign is placed, the vehicle must have winter tyres under any circumstances. It is the responsibility of municipalities with extended competence – of those whose know the local conditions – to use the sign in a reasonable way and in the interest of drivers' safety.


When to change

We should change from summer tyres to winter tyres if the average day temperature drops below 7°C. After November 1 the duty applies to have winter tyres with corresponding pattern, i.e. at least 4 mm of the tread pattern, when driving a car in impaired conditions. And after this date we should not drive also when we can assume that we will drive to places where we can expect such impaired conditions due to the weather, i.e. mountains or higher elevations.
Tyre manufacturers state the 4x4x4 rule: four identical winter tyres, maximum four years old and with a tread depth of at least four mm. "However, we should realise that the decreasing tread depth also reduces the quality and safety of driving. If the tread is worn and is below specified minimum limit of 4 mm, we must expect that the braking distance of our car will increase by up to 50%. This means that for instance when going 50 km/h in the city, this is the entire length of the pedestrian crossing," the head of BESIP Martin Farář warns.

How to recognise the winter tyre

Winter tyres should be labelled on the side at least with letters M+S (Mud + Snow). Such tyres offer a better engagement and stability of the vehicle particularly on muddy surfaces and in a snow mesh. Still, any tyres marked this way do not have to be tyres that will have all the necessary properties at low temperatures. Reputable manufacturers therefore use the Alpine symbol, i.e. the snow flake inside a triple mountain, for their products designed for real winter use. We can usually find this symbol on the tyre side next to the M+S marks.

How to safely store tyres

As the majority of motorists now regularly changes tyres before and after the summer season, the correct storage is very important for them. Storage has a direct effect on maintaining the tyre properties. It is advisable to follow several principles when storing tyres. If tyres are stored without discs, they should be kept upright, one next to another, and should be rotated every four weeks. Tyres without discs should not be suspended on hooks and should not be stacked horizontally on top of each other. On the other hand, tyres with discs should be suspended on hooks or placed on top of each other, but should not be stored upright. Tyres should be protected from weather and should not be stored in a room with an increased concentration of chemical substances.

What happens if we do not change

If it is found in the winter period in a road check that the driver does not use winter tyres as required, he/she will face a fine of up to CZK 2000. If this offence is passed to the administrative proceedings, a fine of up to CZK 2,500 may be imposed. A much more noticeable sanction may however come from the insurance company. If the accident happens on summer tyres that are also heavily worn, the insurance company can claim a portion of the amount it paid for damage compensation.

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