MAP.  Winter tires: here are the departments where they will be mandatory

MAP. Winter tires: here are the departments where they will be mandatory

Motorists are to equip themselves for the winter in 48 departments. (© Mario Beauregard / Adobe Stock)

It is a mandatory pit stop for tens (hundreds?) of thousands of motorists. From 2021 and as part of mountain law IIthe prefects of departments with mountain ranges must draw up a list of municipalities where vehicles must be equipped with removable tires or chains for driving in these areas.

This obligation follows from 1ahem November 2022 to March 31, 2023. Here’s what you need to know.

who does it concern?

Specifically, this equipment obligation applies to light and commercial vehicles, motorhomes, heavy goods vehicles and buses.

On the other hand, this does not apply to all of France, but rather to the 48 mountainous metropolitan departments (Alps, Pyrenees, Vosges, Massif Central).

The obligation may not apply to the entire territory, but may only be in certain locations more exposed to cold, ice and snow.


List of affected departments

These are: Ain, Allier, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Ardèche, Ariège, Aude, Aveyron, Cantal, Corrèze, Corse-du-Sud, Haute-Corse, Côte-d ‘Or, Creuse, Doubs, Drôme, Gard, Haute-Garonne, Hérault, Isère, Jura, Loire, Haute-Loire, Lot, Lozère, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Moselle, Nièvre, Puy-de-Dôme, Pyrénées-Atlantique , Hautes-Pyrénées, Pyrénées-Orientales, Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin, Rhône, Haute-Saône, Saône-et-Loire, Savoy, Haute-Savoie, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Var, Vaucluse, Hau Vienne, Vosges, Yonne and Belfort area.

The exact list of municipalities can be found at Road safety website.

It should also be noted that there is new signage in the affected areas over dedicated panel.

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This sign indicates when it is mandatory to have winter gear.
This sign indicates when it is mandatory to have winter gear. (©Road Safety)

Why this measure?

The road safety objective for this measure is primarily the protection of motorists in difficult traffic conditions. Snow tires help reduce risks on snowy or icy roads.

It is also about avoiding blocking situations in mountainous areas, when unequipped vehicles find themselves over the tracks, unable to extricate themselves and immobilize the entire axis of traffic.

Road safety

What equipment do you need?

You need to understand that there are different types of tires. “Summer”, “snow” and “four-season” tires.

“For a car, you need either winter tires, or metal chains, or special snow socks that will circulate around the relevant departments,” explains Frédéric Dermer, automotive specialist and co-founder of the company repaira service that allows you to find a garage near you.

Winter tires are standardized throughout the European Union. “This is the 3PMSF (3 Peak Mountain Snow Flake) standard, which is visible on the edge of the tire,” agrees Frédéric Dermer withnews.fr.

Another standard, unofficial at the European level, is also tolerated until 1ahem November 2024: M+S standard.

The difference between a winter tire and a summer tire lies in the rubber used, which is different. The construction and size of the grooves are also different. The aim is to make them work at a low temperature.

Frederic DermarSpecialist, co-founder of Fixter

The specialist notes the variety and the “impressive” price range, with prices that can reach up to €200 per tyre. “The difference will be in quality, safety and handling. »

Can you drive with snow tires in summer?

While summer tires are not ideal for winter safety, the reverse is not true. However, professionals do not recommend this because “they wear out much faster and are noisier. There is a loss of comfort,” says Frédéric Dermer, who recommends an initial investment in two sets of tires that will last longer.

What about all-season tires?

There is no special rule for motorists equipped with “four-year” tires, as some are certified to the 3PMSF standard. But Frédéric Dermer does not recommend them “for people who are in the mountains, rather for someone who goes on vacation. »

And even if you are equipped with winter tires and have to go down mountain passes by car, “you will be glad to have chains”, assures the specialist.

Equipment details by vehicle type

Road safety summarized equipment by vehicle type.

For passenger and light commercial vehiclesthe driver has a choice of either:

  • hold at least two chains (or other equivalent removable anti-slip device),
  • equip your vehicle with at least four winter tires mounted on at least two wheels on each axle.

Please note that cars without a driver’s license are not affected.

For buses and coachesyou must either:

  • have at least two chains (or other equivalent removable anti-slip device)
  • be equipped with at least four winter tires mounted on at least two steering wheels and at least two drive wheels. If the vehicle has more than one steered axle, these are the steered wheels of the main steering system.

For trucks and heavy vehiclesyou must either:

  • have at least two chains (or equivalent removable anti-slip devices);
  • be equipped with at least four winter tires mounted on at least two steering wheels and at least two drive wheels. If the vehicle has more than one steered axle, these are the steered wheels of the main steering system.

what are you risking?

The sanction established by law is a category 4 fine, i.e. 135 euros. However, last year it was about prevention and no report was processed.

Nothing is less certain for this year. Contacted by user news.fr, Road Safety has confirmed that no penalty decree has been issued. If not disclosed, defiant motorists will not be fined again this year.

Rush to the garages

A few days before the obligation to have snow equipment comes into force, Frédéric Dermer, co-founder of Fixter, which operates mainly in the Lyon region (affected by the measure), acknowledges that “there is an influx of customers for equipment with snow tires.

And you have to hurry, because there are only a few days left to get ready for winter.

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