Road safety has been making headlines in France as recent law changes are requiring road users to adopt snow tyres or chains during the Winter period in certain mountainous regions. This has been done in an effort to reduce the number of accidents caused by the extreme weather seen in the chosen areas of France. Where do these changes apply? What are the penalties? And will it affect my Insurance? Find out below…
Does this apply to all of France?
In total, these new laws will be implemented across 48 departments in France between November 1st and March 31st, including Haute Vienne. Whilst they apply to both locals and visitors, there is a year’s grace period without penalties which cover this first winter. Despite this, we still recommend keeping an eye out for these signs shown below to help you to identify areas in which this law applies (‘B26 équipements spéciaux obligatoires’).
What are the penalties?
As previously mentioned, this winter there is a grace period, so no penalties will be enforced. Nevertheless, It’s good practice to be aware of these new rules and signs as forgetting in the future is likely to result in a €135 fine and a potential risk of having the car immobilised.
Immobilising in particular would more than likely ruin your trip. As well as your car being clamped, your carte grise (registration document) is also confiscated and you must leave the car where it is, or nearby until you have obtained chains or winter tyres for it.
How would this affect my Insurance?
Before now, there has only been an obligation to use either snow tyres or chains on certain roads or during snowy conditions. However, with this new rule in place, failure to equip your car with the necessary winter equipment in areas where this is mandatory could not only result in a fine but also affect your insurance cover. If an accident occurs where winter tyres are mandatory but have not been fitted, your insurer could refuse compensation.
What can you use?
As mentioned this new law requires either snow chains or winter tyres. If using snow chains the car should have metal or textile chains (or ‘snow socks’) on at least two powered wheels or four winter tyres. Chains are very effective, both on snow and black ice, but they can sometimes be complicated to put on, therefore winter tyres are a great alternative.
Winter tyres may include ones stamped ‘M+S’ (mud and snow) or, preferably, 3PMSF (three peaks mountain snow flake)- the latter will be obligatory from 2024.
If you’re planning any trips in the future, we recommend doing your research before you go. If you are hiring a car, ensure to hire one with snow tyres. Make yourself familiar with the new signs and check your route to identify areas that may require these extra changes. A couple of extra minutes now saves you from a $135 fine and potential accidents in the future.
Whilst snow tyres and chains can help to improve traction on icy roads, your wheel nuts are still susceptible to taking a beating from the extreme weather conditions. At Checkpoint, we offer a range of wheel nut indicators and retainers that double up as dust caps to protect your wheel nuts from extreme outdoor weather elements and general wear and tear. These include our Dustite and Dustite LR wheel nut indicators and Safewheel and Safewheel Twin wheel nut retainers.