Motorists must recognize, prepare for winter dangers

The weather is getting more inconsistent and so are road conditions.

German Polizei asks motorists to change their driving habits since streets are getting more slippery due to rain, leaves and windfall. They recommend drivers put on winter tires now and ensure vehicles are properly winterized.

The German traffic regulation requires equipment that is adjusted to the weather conditions. This means, on snow and ice, vehicles must be equipped with snow tires or all-weather tires. Motorists will be fined €20 if they get caught by Polizei without the proper tires. If they impact traffic by not making it up a hill or blocking the road, for example, the fine increases to  €40.

Today, the Federal Council of Germany is supposed to decide on a new law that requires snow tires during the winter season. Then fines will be raised if the law is passed.

German police officials said a snow tire that is a few years old is still better than a brand new summer tire. It all depends on the tire’s rubber mixture.

When temperatures drop below 7 degrees Celsius (48 degrees Fahrenheit), snow tires demonstrate their good qualities. Summer tires harden in cold weather and lose their grip. Snow tires should not be older than six to eight years and the tread should be at least 4 millimeters, or 0.16 inches. Drivers who are unsure about the quality of their tires should make a stop at the tire shop and have them checked.
In case of an accident due to the wrong tires, auto insurances can refuse to pay for the damage.

Drivers also must add anti-freeze to their windshield wiper fluid and check the blades and the lights.

In cold months, the following rules must be obeyed:

• All car windows, the top, trunk and hood have to get cleared of snow and ice before driving. Besides a €10 fine, car insurance considers a joint liability in case of an accident. Also, sheets of ice flying off of vehicles are considered a traffic hazard and result in a €10 fine.

• Motorists cannot idle their cars and leave their motors running unattended to warm it up. Causing exhaust pollution and unnecessary noise in the early morning is fineable at a minimum of €10.

• Motorists must always adjust their speed to the weather conditions. Driving in an anticipated way helps to avoid severe consequences.

Motorists should also think about ice scrapers and de-icer spray. Door seals should get treated with special rubber products. In case of an emergency, warm winter clothes and a blanket might come in handy.

(Courtesy of Westpfalz Police Headquarters)