COMPULSORY WINTER TYRES: FRANCE DELAYS PLANS
19th November 2019 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Plans to force cars to fit winter tyres or carry snow chains on certain mountain roads will not be in force this winter.
A law to require the special equipment was passed in France in December 2016.
Finally, this year, it was due to become part of the French highway code.
Small vehicles would have been obliged to either have snow tyres fitted or carry chains between 1st November and 31st March.
The law was to apply in 48 separate French departments in mountain regions.
Each area would determine which of its roads would be affected.
But the decree, bringing the three-year-old legislation into force, has not been signed so there can be no change this year.
One of the MPs who has been campaigning for the law change is said to be ‘furax’, or hopping mad.
Joël Giraud, who represents the Hautes-Alpes, says the delay means there is likely to be chaos this winter, as usual.
Driving in the snow in the French Alps
“The mismanagement on the mountain roads and in particular in the Alps will be able to continue,” he says.
France is one of the few alpine countries that does not already insist on motorists having special snow equipment.
Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany, all have laws that are tougher than those in France.
The French police will often stop and turn back drivers heading up to ski resorts in heavy snow if they don’t have chains.
But that doesn’t stop traffic jams on the valley roads – even the autoroutes – when cars without winter tyres get stuck.
“From our point of view, we can’t see why you would want to drive to the Alps in winter without winter tyres or snow chains,” said the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove.
He has carried and put on snow chains more times than he cares to remember.
Last winter he lived in Innsbruck for 3+ months, where winter tyres are a legal requirement.
“But if it’s not made compulsory there are always going to be few who don’t bother and end up causing problems for everyone else.”
And their has been some reaction over on Facebook from our readers:
Aileen Eglington â€ªIrresponsible.Austria has had this for years for winter tyres
Katherine Harvey â€ªCompulsory in Germany. Amazed the French haven’t got round to it. Why no EU regulations?â€¬
Charlotte Swift â€ªcomes in next winter thank goodness, but the police could do more to stop and make people put proper equipment on their car. Round here they don’t bother
Lee Taggart â€ªI was nearly killed by sixt back in January. â€¬â€¬
â€ªBooked a 4wd manual estate with winter tyres. Arrived to find I’d been given a rear wheel drive automatic BMW. Queried that it wasn’t what I paid for and got told it’s that or nothing.
Paid for the snow chains too as only had summer tyres. â€¬â€¬
â€ªGet onto the mountain roads and the car is slipping about on the way up at 5mph just on the icy/cold roads with no snow. Turn a corner and the car just skids down hill.
Came to a stop at the end of the slope a few feet before the edge. â€¬â€¬
â€ªPolice saw the entire thing, looked at the snow chains, which were broken despite being new, and checked the tyres. The tread depth on the summer tyres was illegal.â€¬â€¬
â€ªThey need to make them a.legal requirement to stop car hire companies endangering people.
Luckily I’m experienced driving in the snow but had that of been my brother and my nieces he may not have been able to stop in time
Marshall White â€ªYou don’t sound experienced
Lee Taggart â€ªMarshall White driven in the snow loads with the correct and working equipment and never had an issue in any conditions.
Also go off road driving too. So yes, I am.
The car was not fit for purpose with zero tread on summer tyres. Police told me not to drive it again and sixt collected, apologised and compensated me quite well for their mistake.
The franchisee also lost the franchise as he kept billing my credit card for 6 months despite sixt head office and police report saying I was not at fault! â€¬â€¬
â€ªBut thanks for your pearls of wisdom, what on earth would I have done without you!â€¬