Polish MPs prepare a draft law, which is to force drivers to equip in suitable tires for winter. For now, it is a voluntary matter. But going abroad, you should check what rules apply in particular country.
If we drive only on the Polish roads, yet it’s still up to us drivers. Current regulations require that the tire - doesn’t matter whether summer, winter or all-season - had a tread depth of at least 1.6 mm. In winter conditions, however, it’s not enough. Experts recommend the use of winter tires with tread min. 3.5 mm.
Is it worth to change tires?
It’s best to change summer tires for winter when the outside temperature during the day will begin to be kept below 7 degrees Celsius. Winter tires are made of a blend, which achieves an appropriate degree of hardness at low temperatures. Using these tires when the temperature is higher, can be dangerous. Especially in late spring and summer, winter tires will significantly extend the braking distance and cause loss of steering control of the vehicle in emergency situations. According to research conducted by Continental, braking in summer when having winter tires may be extended up to six meters!
Analogical situation – using summer tires in winter. Braking on a slippery road will not only be a torment for the driver, but also a threat to other road users.
A good compromise may be a year-round tire that are similar to winter tires (in appearance), but their tread is slightly shallower. During winter universal tires are recommend mostly to those drivers, who drive on the streets in the city cleared of snow. These tires never will be as good as winter tires in winter and summer tires – in summer. Of course, unless we are comparing branded year-round tires with the cheapest products "Made in China".
We should also remember that the tires have their life-span, which depends not only on the mileage. Therefore, you should both control the depth of the tread, and change tires at least once in about 6 years.
In which country I have to change tires?
In some countries winter tires are already obligatory. They are absolutely required in Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Slovenia. In most of these countries they are required during the period from 1 December to the last day of February or first of March (in Sweden until the end of March). The exception is Slovenia, where you need to use winter tires from 15 November to 15 March, and Lithuania - from November 10 to April 1.
In most European countries the requirement to have winter tires depends on the current weather conditions. When the weather requires it, in the whole country or in the selected regions, winter tires are mandatory in Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland. Local regulations may require the use of winter tires in France, Spain and Italy. Information that the particular area snow tires or chains are required, can be found on road signs.
The countries where winter tires are not mandatory include Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, the Netherlands, Ireland, Portugal, Malta, Hungary and United Kingdom. Such requirement does not apply also in Iceland, but beware, if there’s an ice or snow on the snow, the driver should be equipped in chains.