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Town hall in Vosges to fine drivers without winter tyres this year

Elsewhere, drivers will not receive penalties for non-compliance with the new winter tyre law until winter 2022

The mairie of Gérardmer will impose a fine on those not following the new winter tyre rules Pic: New Africa / Shutterstock

The mairie of the northeastern French town of Gérardmer (Vosges) has announced that it will penalise motorists found to be driving without the correct winter tyre equipment this winter, a year earlier than the government requires.

This comes with the enforcement of the new Loi Montagne, which enables the prefectures of 48 mountainous departments to require that vehicles be fitted with appropriate winter equipment, but for which a grace period of one year for fines has been announced.

France’s Interior Ministry stated in October that: “Future breaches of the requirement to keep snow chains in your boot or to fit winter tyres in the departments concerned will not be punished this winter. 

“Information and education campaigns will accompany the introduction of this requirement in the coming weeks.”

Read more: One-year grace period granted over mandatory winter tyres in France

So, while vehicles such as cars and camper vans must since yesterday (November 1) be fitted with four winter tyres or, failing this, carry fabric ‘socks’ or snow chains in their boot in certain areas, most drivers will not face sanctions if they fail to do so this winter.

From winter 2022 onwards, drivers found to be without the necessary equipment could be subject to a €135 fine and prevented from continuing their journey. 

However, Mayor of Gérardmer Stessy Speissman does not agree with this grace period, especially as the law first appeared in the government’s official legal publication Le Journal officiel over a year ago. 

Mr Speissman said: “I do not understand why the [law] has not been made operative immediately. When the speed limit was set to 80km/h, when seat belts were made mandatory, for example, there was no [period] of tolerance. 

“From one day to the next we were obliged to apply these measures.”   

A municipal decree has therefore been published in Gérardmer, enabling authorities to impose a €35 fine on those who do not comply with the new rules. 

“It is a question of road safety,” Mr Spiessman added. “We are tired of seeing our roads blocked by ill-equipped cars, by camper vans or lorries which have got in the way [of traffic…] and that are impacting our [local] economy.”

What equipment do cars affected by the winter tyres rule need?

If a car or van does not have four winter tyres, it must carry fabric socks or snow chains in its boot. 

Read more: Recap: France’s new snow tyre law starts today, what you need to know

The snow chains or socks must be suitable for at least two ‘driving’ wheels and the driver must know how to fit them when needed. 

People who only occasionally visit the mountains can therefore avoid paying for four new tyres by opting instead for chains.  

The winter tyre requirement does not apply to vehicles with studded tyres. 

Coaches, buses and HGVs without trailers must also install winter tyres or chains, while HGVs with trailers must have chains on at least two of their driving wheels, even if they are also equipped with winter tyres.  

Winter tyres can be identified by a “M+S”, “M.S” or “M&S” marking on the sidewall. The “3PMSF” (Three Peak Mountain Snow Flake) sign is also an industry standard. 

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