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Drivers face crackdown on winter tyres

The Local · 6 Oct 2010, 12:09

Published: 06 Oct 2010 12:09 GMT+02:00

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Ramsauer told daily Bild he wanted to close the present loophole under which the requirements for winter tyres were vague. Instead, he would make the owners of vehicles, including transport companies, strictly responsible for making sure tyres were safe.

“We have to act quickly,” he said. “I cannot be that a free pass is given for dangerously sliding on ice. The provisions of the road traffic regulation are therefore being overhauled. We will, on an interim basis, introduce an obligation to use winter tyres. Anyone who drives in snow and mud during winter with unsuitable tyres is endangering themselves and others.”

The national winter tyre regulation would apply until a European regulation with uniform criteria came into effect, which was expected at the earliest in 2011, Ramsauer said.

Until now it has been left up to manufacturers as to whether or not tyres are labelled suitable for winter driving in snow and mud – which they can do even if the tyres don’t meet the specifications.

The situation is urgent because a court in Oldenburg, Lower Saxony, recently ruled that traffic fines were unconstitutional under the present, vague set of regulations.

The road traffic regulation stipulates only that a “suitable set of tyres” be fitted according to weather conditions. But it leaves open what precisely constitutes proper tyres.

Story continues below…

“Our goal is still to have a European regulation for a uniform label for winter tyres,” Ramsauer said. “Then we can introduce mandatory fitting for which the owner of the vehicle is responsible – so for trucks, the transport company. It may not hide behind the regulation that only affects the driver. Our plan is for safer driving in the winter.”

The Local/dw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:49 October 6, 2010 by nycinhamburg
umm what are tyres? I think you meant to say "tires". tyres is not even listed in the dictionary. HA
12:59 October 6, 2010 by occassional
It's English, you twit.
13:01 October 6, 2010 by mbowyer
Nothing wrong with "tyre", its the UK English spelling, and they invented the language.

13:50 October 6, 2010 by efehrenbach
Lest we forget...

"Tyre was founded around 2750 BC according to Herodotus and it appears on monuments as early as 1300 BC."

14:07 October 6, 2010 by nycinhamburg
twit?? English is my native language and I graduated from a top 5 University with honors so I think twit is a bit out of line. Second, tyre is still not in the English dictionary. The most common use is "tire" languages evolve over time and it may have been originated by the Brits during the BC era but who the hell speaks like anyone out of that period? I was only making a point that they should use a word that is a bit more commonly used. Even my German co-workers had no idea what "tyre" is but knew what a "tire" was. Just proved my point!
15:20 October 6, 2010 by Kayak
@NYC in Hamburg - I know what a "tyre" is and English is my mother-tongue but I was not educated as well as you so that must explain it.

On the other hand, you learnt a new word... it's not that difficult, eh?
16:29 October 6, 2010 by Gaffers

English Oxford dictionary - One of the oldest and most respected dictionaries of the English Language:

tyre (US tire)

…a rubber covering, typically inflated or surrounding an inflated inner tube, placed round a wheel to form a soft contact with the road…

Not BC but current definition. An honours (note the U) degree doesn't make you intelligent. It just meant you study well. I know a lot of "educated" people who have no common sense at all. The fact you need to announce your intelligence to the world is more a reflection on you than on the post calling you a twit. Again, if you bothered to look up the word twit you would find it means a silly or foolish person and has no basis on intelligence. Therefore I would say the description fits. You didn't do any research before making your statement. American English is not English. The Local is German news in English not in American English.

So American English has bastardised (spelt with an S not a Z) another perfectly fine word. I applaud The Local for not cheapening the English language by lowering its standards to the lowest common denominator.
16:57 October 6, 2010 by DinhoPilot
I was going to comment on the news, but now all I can say is OUCH... that last comment was wicked (expression)...

But who am I to judge, english is not my language, interesting discussion though! We are always learning!
17:12 October 6, 2010 by nycinhamburg
@Gaffers and all the other haters! I was not expressing my intelligence or how you put it lack of. I made a simple statement that tyre is not a common English word in America where I am from. Obviously the Brits here were offended by this. UK English and American English has its differences but to say American English is a diminished or watered down version of British English is sad. I did not start with the name calling, again I was only stating out a point. This should be a a forum for learning not bashing each other!
17:30 October 6, 2010 by Gaffers
I'm sorry but this was not what you posted at all. You were seeking to try and identify a mistake by the author of the article which did not exist. At no point did you mention America or American English in either of your posts :-)

I, for one, was not offended and there was certainly no hate just a desire to show the facts. I cannot speak for others. I was just looking to correct you on what was factually incorrect. For reference American English is not the most prevalent form of English (or more commonly used as you put it) in the world. A quick Google search will show that Tyre is used in far more countries including Australia, China & India (when it is translated into English).
18:15 October 6, 2010 by Kayak
@Gaffers - agreed.

btw - I'm a fan of both English and American English. Where I'm from, both English and American English spelling forms are acceptable provided consistency is maintained.

@NYC - There's a lesson to be learnt (US learned) every day. Please don't feel too bad.
18:21 October 6, 2010 by Gaffers
Spooky. I'm sat in a meeting room called Kayak right now :-)
19:52 October 6, 2010 by MunchingInMuenchen
I, for one, am truly tired of all these tirades by tireless tyrannical typing tyrants regarding old tires or tyres. This topic should be retired! Signed: Tyrone in the Tirol (or Tyrol)
20:03 October 6, 2010 by KOKO
You'd better look it up in dict.leo.org and you'll find the BE and the AE version - besides it's not worth arguing about it, dear twit!
20:14 October 6, 2010 by auniquecorn
I really hate to get into these stupid arguments,,,,,,(only because I´m American), But According to the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of current English, Regularly updated (says this on the cover) Published Aug. 1973, pg. 934, thrid from last in the T section:

tyre (US= tire)

…Band of solid ar inflated rubber, on an on an on.

And you know what?, today is the first time in my life I seen Tire spelt that way.
03:28 October 7, 2010 by JohnPaul44
Bloody British buggers!
05:44 October 7, 2010 by marimay

"twit?? English is my native language and I graduated from a top 5 University with honors"

LOL, yeah top 5 American university! woo hoo!

I did not even go to college and I still assumed TYRE would be a form of "tire" most likely found in England.

Guess I am smarter than you despite your overpriced joke of an education.

Get over yourself.
07:32 October 7, 2010 by BR549
This argument is getting old. I am TYRED (TIRED) of it. How about arguing over other words now? Center / Centre or Realize / Realise or in sports, field or pitch?
09:17 October 7, 2010 by JohnPaul44
How about the British grammatical treatment of group nouns as plural, rather than singular as in American English. Examples:

(American) The government is incompetent.

(British) The government are incompetent.
09:41 October 7, 2010 by freechoice
does winter tires really makes a different? it's just the same rubber thingie sommer tires has...with the exception of deeper grooves...i think this winter tires is just a marketing bullshit by some tire companies to milk more money out of the public.

i would prefer traction control, ABS, and 4x4 for winter driving....how about making all cars mandatory with all these features?
10:41 October 7, 2010 by redleg50
How can you hold the drivers liable for the safety of their tires(tyres) except for the overall condition of the tires. The tire industry as a whole is not covered by single set of standards. The ratings you see on tires such as traction, temperature, etc. are left up to the particular tire manufacturer. For instance a Michelin with a rating of A for temp and a B for traction will not necessarily corrospond to a Goodrich tire with the same ratings. Until there are industry wide standards, I don't see where a driver can be held liable.

As far as snow tires verus summer tires, it basically comes down to different rubber compounds in the tires. The rubber compounds in summer tires tend to stiffen up in colder temps where as winter tires have rubber compounds which stay more pliable and are able to grip the road better. Yes, tire design with different sipes(small grooves) in the tires, help to a certain extent.
10:55 October 7, 2010 by Kayak
@redleg50 - What you write is very interesting but are you describing the situation in Germany?

Would anyone like to confirm that, in Germany, TÜV have no DIN-code for rating tyres?
11:13 October 7, 2010 by michael4096
Drivers are always responsible for the roadworthiness of their vehicles in whatever conditions they find themselves.

And, to be honest, when the outside temperature hits -25C, tyres rated for such conditions are self-preservation not a luxury
12:51 October 7, 2010 by Legal E
oh Tiresome lol
14:06 October 7, 2010 by J-Dub
For a correct way to get this straight, I will tell all that having all-weather radials as opposed to winter tires solves this issue. The story in general is for cheapos who refuse to pay the extra money to buy all weather radials because they are higher price than winter tires and getting the tires changed over by season costs more money. Typically, with common tires size 185 50 R14:

4 X 185 50 R14s (summer) cost about €150. Disposal of old tires costs €40 mounting costs €40 and balancing costs €40. Thats a total of €270 for a complete change. You will have to do this twice a year, once for the summer and once for the winter. You are capable of avoiding the disposal charges if you keep the old tires. You are NOT going to avoid balancing and mounting charges at any shop, period based on TÜV regulations.

4 X 185 50 R14s (all-weather) cost about €170-€180. Keep the old tires and pay for just the mounting and balancing. This costs only about €80. Total cost would be €260, but for the entire year, so you save money.

All weather radials are suitable for any condition and improve fuel mileage. If you absolutely have to tread through heavy snow, then apply chains. You would have to do this anyway with winter tires. All weather tires generally maintain better grip in any weather condition because they heat up faster. Speed ratings are on every tire and being that may German Autobahns have no speed limit areas, no less than a V-rated should be used if you are going to travel over 200 km/h. Z-rated are the best for speed, but there should be no reason to use these unless you plan on travelling beyond the 200 mark. The only downside of All weather tires is that they wear faster due to the fact they heat up faster. You will never have to worry about TÜV giving you a hard time about changing between summer and winter tires when you have all weather radials. If you want good quality tires, buy from Kuhmo or Dunlop. Avoid the Eco tires and house brands since they are prone to dry rotting in the summer after one winter in Germany.

source: *Certified Auto Mechanic* for over 15 years.
19:53 October 7, 2010 by OkieinBerlin
In Oklahoma, we spell like we say it -- taars.
22:58 October 7, 2010 by delvek
@ J-Dub, unless the law changed from last winter, all-seasons are not acceptable for winter tire season in Germany. Think I am wrong, talk to your local insurance agent how it will go down if your in an accident with all-seasons on a cold snowy day. Best of luck.

@ NYC, you sound like an ass when you introduce yourself as being from a top 5 school, unless your 4 years old who does that? You deserve a back hand, in this situation, feel free to self back hand. Its okay, no one is looking you can do it.

@ OkieinBerlin, think I wouldve kept that to myself! lol :) At times I do miss the comical aspects of the States.
01:35 October 8, 2010 by J-Dub
delvek, I have been working in the Automotive industry in Germany for a LONG time and granted the law changes yearly. But you are DEAD WRONG. All-weather radials are accepted under TÜV's vehicle roadworthiness tests, and accepted as tires in BOTH seasons. On a 'cold snowy day' when the snow is already out of control, you would use snow chains to tread through. So, best of luck my @ss. Get some real information before you start yapping. I have been conducting TÜV roadworthiness tests longer than the internet has been around. TÜV roadworthiness tests are all you need in an insurance claim. If you are in an accident with all-weather radials in the winter and the snow is not deeming snow chains to be used, then there are two possible conclusions: (1) you were driving recklessly, (2) you have a mechanical failure. I have driven every car I have ever owned with all weather radials and they perform BETTER than winter tires in the winter. All weather radials heat up MUCH faster and in doing so, provide better grip in any weather condition. This insurance claim remark is NULL. This is what TÜV roadworthiness tests are given for...to insure the vehicle is to standard as per German law. The standards are valid for 2 years, unless a Public Service Officer sees a flaw on the vehicle in a random stop. As long as I have worked conducting TÜV inspections I can honestly say that never once have I been told by any authority in the Land to fail a vehicle with all season radials in the winter. This is a complete FARCE. These tires adjust to the weather and road conditions accordingly just as the winter tires do. People think that the only difference between all types of tires are the grooves and you certainly give me the impression that you are one of these people. The tires are made of a more durable synthetic rubber, capable of heating up faster and gripping better in any weather condition. Even your local ATU, Pitstop, or Euromaster outlets will mount all season radials in winter and personally hand you a gutachten for conformity to TÜV along with them to document their compliance. So, once again, where are your facts? It's funny when you mention Insurance agents because personally I don't see them being above the laws of Germany and I have just explained to you that these tires are compliant under TÜV in any weather condition, even with the use of snow chains. So what exactly were you getting at? You are within compliance of the law, so what can an insurance agent do to you unless you are driving recklessly or have a mechanical failure? NOTHING! It's a laugh that I don't think you are wrong, I KNOW YOU ARE. Leave the technical automotive information to the professionals and stay behind your desk, pal.
08:11 October 8, 2010 by JohnPaul44
I have been driving since before either of you were born. Snow tires and all-weather tires are useless! Studded snow tires work very well, almost as good as chains, except in very deep snow.
08:33 October 8, 2010 by delvek
@ J-Dub, wow did I touch a nerve, take a holiday. Can you site a regulation that says all seasons are acceptable under TUV so I can use it. I have had all my cars insured at the same major German insurance company and the agent has informed me that all-seasons in winter are not allowed.

You provide no more facts then I did!

You should really chill out though, I was simply passing on my own learned experience just like you are, post a regulation if your that much of an expert, otherwise pipe down, PAL.

Oh yeah, sit behind a desk? You know nothing about me.
10:41 October 8, 2010 by raandy
@freechoice,I read that "winter tires ,tyres " have a softer and are more malleable rubber for cold weather its not so much the tread ,as the amount of rubber that "meets the road"......that is why the wear much faster in warm weather than non winter tires...
10:43 October 8, 2010 by dbert4
The "all weather" tire is a compromise. And as such their performance isn't great in either winter or summer. With most of them being terrible in the wet. If you want to argue against my statement, I have a half used set of all season Michelins from my VW that you can have for free. Just don't drive too fast in the rain.
17:22 October 8, 2010 by tallady
Is there a specific date that winter tires are to be mounted on your auto?????
17:27 October 8, 2010 by jmact
I'm from Maine, USA, where we consider snow-tires a waste of time on ice unless they have studs. Given that it appears studs are not allowed most places in Europe (and I don't consider chains an option unless you are faced with unending deep snow and don't intend to drive over 30kph), you must then do some serious study of different tire performance. Just because the tire says M & S does not make it necessarily a good choice. Consumers Reports in the US does an annual study on this with more objective testing and rates which tires perform well in different situations (rain, mud, snow, ice). You can also check with the major on-line tire distributors (In US, Discount Tire, Tire Rack, etc.) and review the user ratings. Search on-line on this topic, do your homework. Canadians, for one group, know a lot about this topic. You also need to be aware that tires that are good in ice and snow may not be the best for long-distance high-speed driving on the Autobahn, there are always compromises. Back in Maine, I had two sets on rims, before a trip would put on the best set for conditions, and put the other set in the trunk (yah, boot), could switch them over in a few minutes with a spinner and jack. Maybe someday there will be a tire compound with characteristics that can be changed with a button on your dash (or maybe we won't have tires any more to worry about).
17:40 October 8, 2010 by tallady
jmact..where in Maine are you from? I was born in Portland, and grew up in Cumberland.
18:18 October 8, 2010 by michael4096
One of the things I like in germany is that they (usually) treat things like this sensibly. There is no rule such as between this date and that date you must use whatever tyres because you as a driver are responsible to have done all possible to make sure that you are driving safely and just sticking to the letter of the law isn't enough. Similar logic applies to no speed limit rules. Driving at an unsafe speed for the conditions can happen at any speed.

The weather across the country varies tremendously as it does in central canada, for example. A 20C change over 24 hours or over 500km is not unusual. I have known the local beergardens to open (>18C) and freezing fog (
19:23 October 8, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer

There is a NIGHT AND DAY difference between proper (studded or nonstudded winter "tires") ahem, and "all seasons" or "Mud and Snow (m+s)" rated tires. 4x4 and all the traction control and braking gadgets in the world will not come close to a normal car, of any drivetrain layout equipped with proper tyres.

Winter tires are not just for accelerating in adverse conditions, but also for turning, braking and high speed stability. With correct tires, you can almost drive like it's a summer day on sheet ice or packed snow. Not saying you should but the proper tires for the condition gives you that much of a safety margin. Also, never ever fit winter tires just to your drive wheels. If you do, you're simply asking to do a 180* spin when braking.

Winter tires work because the rubber compound gets softer and "opens up" as it gets under 40*F. The hairline zigzags ("sipes") in the treadblocks allow the sharper edges of the tire to grip where there is none in all directions. A studded tire actually mechanically bites the ice. In non-studded tires, different rubber compounds within the tire add grip in place of a actual mechanical stud.

For German driving your car should be equipped with a summer sport/rain tire and and performance winter tire. Check out the offerings from Continental, Gislaved, Nokian, Michelin or Pirelli. Tire technology has come a long way. And, like in many northern european countries, it's against the law to venture out with a improperly equipped vehicle.

I have driven on Gislaved Nordfrost5's at 140kph on glare ice in northern Sweden like it was a normal sunday drive. I currently have a version of Continental's non-studded tire on my AWD vehicle.

All this discussion has made me tyred.
20:22 October 8, 2010 by Gretl
The US Army told us that as long as our tires has "M&S" on them, we would not be fined in the winter should an accident occur. And when I did total my van in winter, it was because the other driver in a silver Mercedes did not have his lights on in the early morning in a light snow storm.

That said, I have encountered some very wet snow/slush that I would have preferred to have studded tires on my vehicle. I wish they were still legal in Germany!
10:41 October 15, 2010 by Da Goat
Love the argument it is quite simple

if you are tired you are just a little overworked and need a sit down

if you are tyre-d then you have a pretty pattern on you and maybe badly injured

in yank land your tyres get tired so you throw them out!
18:56 September 12, 2012 by mos101392
Not to provoke anyone but some stubborn societies choose to drive in opposite directions, some choose to use the old foot and pound measurements, and some choose to improve on a language. I was an American child living in the UK and a group of english kids came running saying a lorry has crashed. I thought how stupid could a girl be to crash in a house. So am glad there is "truck" and cigarette instead of "Fag". The reverse can be said of the adopting American english for example they use the word "rekon" more than the Americans.

Improvements can be made by anyone and not restrictive to the Brits interpretation or their approval.
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