Call to make snow chains compulsory

Last weekend’s travel nightmare in Savoie has prompted one MP to demand a change in the law

THE WEEKEND’S travel nightmare in Savoie, when heavy snow left 15,000 people stranded, has prompted one MP to call for snow chains to be made compulsory for all vehicles travelling in mountainous regions.

As reported, authorities blamed the traffic chaos on vehicles that were not properly equipped for the conditions, as emergency services in the Savoie were called out to rescue stranded drivers 270 times on Saturday alone.

Now, Joël Giraud, National Assembly member for the Hautes-Alpes and president of the National Council of the Mountain and Alpine Massif Committee, has said he will file a bill making it illegal to drive in the mountains without chains.

Currently, chains are only mandatory where indicated by a blue road sign, or on the orders of police.

Mr Giraud said that carrying “special equipment is required if weather conditions require” is compulsory in several other European nations, including Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, the Baltic States and northern Europe. Authorities can issue fines or even confiscate a vehicle if it is not properly equipped for the conditions.

Mr Giraud’s plan has the backing of drivers’ organisation 40 Million Motorists.

“Winter tyres halve the braking distance of summer tyres on snow-covered ground at 50kph," the organisation said, adding that chains are also essential for some mountain passes.

He said that he proposed that any driver who did not carry snow chains should be fined €90. RTL has reported that a similar bill was proposed by UMP deputy Pierre Morel-A-L'Huissier in 2013.

Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve told BFMTV on Monday that the government would prefer to encourage motorists to take proper precautions rather than introduce legislation.

Photo: Bon Voyageurs / Twitter