German Polizei Corner

A German federal law that went into effect Dec. 3, 2010, specifically mandates the use of winter tires when conditions are icy.   
Winter tires have two kinds of markings: A snowflake for snow tires or the “M+S” sign for tires designed to work in “Matsch und Schnee” (mud and snow).

All-season or all-weather tires may also have the “M+S” marking and are acceptable for winter driving.     
The law also applies to motorbikes, trucks and buses, regardless of whether the driver is the owner or renting the vehicle.

To know when to put snow tires on a vehicle, German motorists use the saying, “von O bis O,” which is short for “von Oktober bis Ostern” (October to Easter). This means, motorists should change from regular tires to snow tires in October and leave them on until Easter. Furthermore, check out these facts about winter tires:

» Only snow tires without spikes or studs are allowed in Germany.

» Tires designed for snow function better than multi-purpose tires.

» All tires should have at least 1.6 millimeters of tread depth, but for maximum safety, tires with less than 4 millimeters should be replaced.             
» Winter tires offer better protection than all-season models, and it’s best if all four tires match.

The German automobile club, ADAC, recommends using tires that carry the “three peak mountain” seal.

Motorists caught driving in winter conditions without “M+S” tires will be fined €40 and given a point against their license. Motorists who are involved in an accident or who block traffic in icy conditions without “M+S” tires will be fined €80 and awarded a point against their license.

In addition, some insurance companies may deny coverage to motorists driving with summer tires on winter roads.