Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Destinations > Europe > Europe
Reload this Page >

Winter tires in Austria or chains ?

Winter tires in Austria or chains ?

Old Feb 27, 18, 12:45 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: IL
Programs: UA Plat, DL Silver, Hertz PC, Avis Pref+, Accor Silver
Posts: 963
Winter tires in Austria or chains ?

I'll be picking up a car in Venice in ten days, driving through Slovenia and at some point up into Austria (Graz) from Maribor (A9). The whole trip will be on motorways.
I can't figure out if I must have winter tires, or whether I can just carry snow chains.... Snow tires are a huge PIA to get hold of out of VCE, cars go out with snow chains only.

Have asked this on another forum with inconclusive answers. Found some info online, from the austrian government. site: (https://www.help.gv.at/Portal.Node/h...e.0631001.html) -

"Passenger Cars and Trucks with a Permissible Maximum Weight of up to 3.5 t
Between 1 November and 15 April, passenger cars and trucks with a permissible maximum weight of up to 3.5 t may be operated in winter conditions such as snow-covered tracks, snowy slush or ice only if winter tyres have been installed on all wheels.
As an alternative to winter tyres, snow chains may be used on at least two driving wheels, however, these may only be used in case the road is covered by a complete or scarcely broken snow cover or sheet of ice."


My understanding is that if the road is dry and no ice, no problem. If the road is packed with snow or frozen over, I can use snow chains on regular tires. If the road is "wintry" - i.e. slush, patches of ice, etc - I cannot drive at all on regular tires. My thinking was that in the second week of March, on highways only, I should be OK with regular tires and snow chains.

Have I misunderstood this ? Are winter tires a must ?
dand99 is offline  
Old Feb 27, 18, 1:00 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: EWR, NJ / OTP, RO / KUL, MY
Programs: UA (1K), OZ (Diamond)
Posts: 231
You will need winter tyres. Otherwise, if stopped by the police and get noticed, you will face HEAVY fines.

Last edited by mihaid; Feb 27, 18 at 1:07 pm
mihaid is offline  
Old Feb 27, 18, 1:05 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Berlin
Programs: BA Gold; LH FTL**; HH Diamond
Posts: 639
Originally Posted by dand99 View Post
I'll be picking up a car in Venice in ten days, driving through Slovenia and at some point up into Austria (Graz) from Maribor (A9). The whole trip will be on motorways.
I can't figure out if I must have winter tires, or whether I can just carry snow chains.... Snow tires are a huge PIA to get hold of out of VCE, cars go out with snow chains only.

Have asked this on another forum with inconclusive answers. Found some info online, from the austrian government. site: (https://www.help.gv.at/Portal.Node/h...e.0631001.html) -

"Passenger Cars and Trucks with a Permissible Maximum Weight of up to 3.5 t
Between 1 November and 15 April, passenger cars and trucks with a permissible maximum weight of up to 3.5 t may be operated in winter conditions such as snow-covered tracks, snowy slush or ice only if winter tyres have been installed on all wheels.
As an alternative to winter tyres, snow chains may be used on at least two driving wheels, however, these may only be used in case the road is covered by a complete or scarcely broken snow cover or sheet of ice."


My understanding is that if the road is dry and no ice, no problem. If the road is packed with snow or frozen over, I can use snow chains on regular tires. If the road is "wintry" - i.e. slush, patches of ice, etc - I cannot drive at all on regular tires. My thinking was that in the second week of March, on highways only, I should be OK with regular tires and snow chains.

Have I misunderstood this ? Are winter tires a must ?
Having summer tyres (sorry about the spelling) is a PITA in wintery conditions. Brake at a traffic light on a faintly frozen surface and you just glide onwards. Winter tyres not only have a different compound (better suited to cold) but also have grooves in them that cut into the surface and augment the braking performance after surface temperatures pass below about 7 Celsius.
My view is that you can and should only use snow chains in deep covered snow - they are also not very easy to put on if you have no experience. You don't need them on highways - vehicles come along and clear away the snow in front of you
If travelling to Austria at that time of year I wouldn't go near a car that doesn't have winter tyres fitted, irrespective of whether or not you are travelling on highways.
As an information point, in Germany rental companies are not allowed to send people out without winter tyres at this time of year.
AlienInTheFatherland is offline  
Old Feb 28, 18, 3:14 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: K+K
Programs: *G
Posts: 4,313
Originally Posted by dand99 View Post
I'll be picking up a car in Venice in ten days, driving through Slovenia and at some point up into Austria (Graz) from Maribor (A9). The whole trip will be on motorways.
I can't figure out if I must have winter tires, or whether I can just carry snow chains.... Snow tires are a huge PIA to get hold of out of VCE, cars go out with snow chains only.

Have asked this on another forum with inconclusive answers. Found some info online, from the austrian government. site: (https://www.help.gv.at/Portal.Node/h...e.0631001.html) -

"Passenger Cars and Trucks with a Permissible Maximum Weight of up to 3.5 t
Between 1 November and 15 April, passenger cars and trucks with a permissible maximum weight of up to 3.5 t may be operated in winter conditions such as snow-covered tracks, snowy slush or ice only if winter tyres have been installed on all wheels.
As an alternative to winter tyres, snow chains may be used on at least two driving wheels, however, these may only be used in case the road is covered by a complete or scarcely broken snow cover or sheet of ice."


My understanding is that if the road is dry and no ice, no problem. If the road is packed with snow or frozen over, I can use snow chains on regular tires. If the road is "wintry" - i.e. slush, patches of ice, etc - I cannot drive at all on regular tires. My thinking was that in the second week of March, on highways only, I should be OK with regular tires and snow chains.

Have I misunderstood this ? Are winter tires a must ?
Basically repeating your quote:
-Technically winter tires are a requirement, between Nov - mid April, only in snowy conditions
-Chains can be used ONLY in heavy snow and ice conditions

HOWEVER,
-Even without snowy conditions, just in low temperatures, summer tires cope extremely poorly on the road.
-If you are involved in an accident while fitted with inappropriate tires, you will be held at minimum partially responsible.

ALSO,
-It has been unseasonably cold across Europe this week (all of Austria is below freezing now), and 10d forecast hovers around freezing for Graz
-Check with the renting agency again, I doubt that a reputable agency would have their cars not fitted with touring / passenger / all-season tires with M+S (mud and snow) rating; these would be technically compliant with regulations.
deniah is offline  
Old Mar 1, 18, 2:00 am
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: IL
Programs: UA Plat, DL Silver, Hertz PC, Avis Pref+, Accor Silver
Posts: 963
For the second week of March. Picking up in Italy, where they just have snow chain regulation.

I will ask about M&S (this is Dollar, so basically Hertz) - but I am guessing they will have the cheapest tires they can get away with....

Originally Posted by deniah View Post
-It has been unseasonably cold across Europe this week (all of Austria is below freezing now), and 10d forecast hovers around freezing for Graz
-Check with the renting agency again, I doubt that a reputable agency would have their cars not fitted with touring / passenger / all-season tires with M+S (mud and snow) rating; these would be technically compliant with regulations.
dand99 is offline  
Old Mar 2, 18, 12:00 pm
  #6  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 1,271
Originally Posted by dand99 View Post
I'll be picking up a car in Venice in ten days, driving through Slovenia and at some point up into Austria (Graz) from Maribor (A9). The whole trip will be on motorways.
I can't figure out if I must have winter tires, or whether I can just carry snow chains.... Snow tires are a huge PIA to get hold of out of VCE, cars go out with snow chains only.

Have asked this on another forum with inconclusive answers. Found some info online, from the austrian government. site: (https://www.help.gv.at/Portal.Node/h...e.0631001.html) -

"Passenger Cars and Trucks with a Permissible Maximum Weight of up to 3.5 t
Between 1 November and 15 April, passenger cars and trucks with a permissible maximum weight of up to 3.5 t may be operated in winter conditions such as snow-covered tracks, snowy slush or ice only if winter tyres have been installed on all wheels.
As an alternative to winter tyres, snow chains may be used on at least two driving wheels, however, these may only be used in case the road is covered by a complete or scarcely broken snow cover or sheet of ice."


My understanding is that if the road is dry and no ice, no problem. If the road is packed with snow or frozen over, I can use snow chains on regular tires. If the road is "wintry" - i.e. slush, patches of ice, etc - I cannot drive at all on regular tires. My thinking was that in the second week of March, on highways only, I should be OK with regular tires and snow chains.

Have I misunderstood this ? Are winter tires a must ?
You have understood it correctly. Chains are an alternative to winter tires. If stopped and you have chains in the car, you are fine. Where the interpretation gets a little difficult for some people to understand is the 'these may be used'. It simply means you cannot put them on until such conditions exist. But you are legally fine to drive without them otherwise as long as you have them in the car as an alternative to having winter tires on the car.

The real issue dand99 is whether you should drive on non-winter tires at all and just rely on chains if things get really bad. My advice would be not to. I don't know what your driving experience is but I can tell you what mine is. I live in Ontario, Canada where we are used to dealing with snow as you might guess. Many people here drive year round on 'all season' tires. But, they are not driving in the Alps on winding, mountain roads during a snowstorm. Most are driving only on city streets that have been plowed. Even under those conditions, there are still plenty of cars that get stuck or have an accident. Most people who can afford winter tires and need to drive in all weather, have them. Even with all my years of experience driving in winter without winter tires and knowing how best to drive in snow without them, I would not contemplate driving in Austria in winter without them unless I never intended to leave Innsbruck or some other town/city.

Second, have you ever attempted to put on a set of chain at all? What about at the side of the road in a snowstorm? That is an experience that no one who has done it, ever wants to repeat.

I also do not believe you cannot rent a car with winter tires already on. It may not be so easy in Venice I grant you but not impossible. https://www.autoeurope.com/winter-ti...th-car-rental/
I would suggest phoning and speaking to a real live person about your plans and coming up with a solution. You might for example be able to pick up a car that has come from Austria to Venice with winter tires on it and then return it to Austria.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Old Mar 2, 18, 12:05 pm
  #7  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 1,271
Originally Posted by mihaid View Post
You will need winter tyres. Otherwise, if stopped by the police and get noticed, you will face HEAVY fines.
No offense intended mihaid but you are stating as a fact, something that is in fact not correct. Having chains in the car is an alternative to having winter tires on the car, as I explained above. Please update your in brain database accordingly for the next time someone asks.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Old Mar 2, 18, 12:43 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: EWR, NJ / OTP, RO / KUL, MY
Programs: UA (1K), OZ (Diamond)
Posts: 231
Originally Posted by dulciusexasperis View Post
No offense intended mihaid but you are stating as a fact, something that is in fact not correct. Having chains in the car is an alternative to having winter tires on the car, as I explained above. Please update your in brain database accordingly for the next time someone asks.
Are you speaking from experience in Austria or just in Canada? Maybe in Canada policemen are more lax. Try to argue with a policeman in Austria, in winter (on a clean road, no snow) when caught with summer tires, that you donít actually need winter tires on a clean road and that you have snow chains in your trunk. They will tell you there is an icy spot on the road just half a mile ahead. So, again, are you speaking from experience in Austria or just from reading the official regulations?
mihaid is offline  
Old Mar 2, 18, 4:46 pm
  #9  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 1,271
Sigh, why is it when you try to gently explain to someone they have got something wrong, that they take personal offense and assume you are attacking them?

You got it wrong mihaid. The law says winter tires OR chains available. The word 'alternative' is quite clear and I would have no difficulty defining it for an Austrain police officer if needed. Or wait, are you an Austrian police officer perhaps, in which case I just have.

As for arguing with policemen, perhaps you have a fear of doing so. I know that is common in many cultures. Here in Canada however, we have no fear of the police and are quite willing to argue with them when necessary.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Old Mar 2, 18, 5:04 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Programs: LH SEN; BA Gold
Posts: 8,241
Originally Posted by dulciusexasperis View Post
You got it wrong mihaid. The law says winter tires OR chains available. The word 'alternative' is quite clear and I would have no difficulty defining it for an Austrain police officer if needed. Or wait, are you an Austrian police officer perhaps, in which case I just have.
The problem with just having chains is that you won't be able to use chains unless there's lots of ice/snow and the road hasn't been cleared. What are you going to do with summer tyres when there's slush on the road or just only a tiny layer of snow or ice (generally the most common situation)? Those are winter conditions. Yet, you would be fined if you mounted chains. And having only summer tyres, you'd get a fine for not having adequate equipment.
WorldLux is offline  
Old Mar 2, 18, 5:08 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: EWR, NJ / OTP, RO / KUL, MY
Programs: UA (1K), OZ (Diamond)
Posts: 231
Well, I did not comment on what the law says. This is clear and it was even stated by the OP. I was referring to what can happen (and it did happen to me). I agree, keeping your stand with the police should not normally be an issue, except in instances when the driver and the police donít have the same mother tongue and the policeman doesnít (or claims not to) understand English. But by all means, go ahead and drive without winter tires in Austria (and many other European countries) in winter and advise others to do the same, just because the law says it is not mandatory.
mihaid is offline  
Old Mar 2, 18, 6:15 pm
  #12  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 1,271
Originally Posted by WorldLux View Post
The problem with just having chains is that you won't be able to use chains unless there's lots of ice/snow and the road hasn't been cleared. What are you going to do with summer tyres when there's slush on the road or just only a tiny layer of snow or ice (generally the most common situation)? Those are winter conditions. Yet, you would be fined if you mounted chains. And having only summer tyres, you'd get a fine for not having adequate equipment.

Umm, not quite WorldLux. No one gets to have it both ways, including the police and the law. The law is clear, you can legally drive over a patch of slush or ice with summer tires. You have to put chains on when the 'prevailing' conditions require it. So a 'patch' of ice will not put you in contravention of the law. Just how much and for what distance slush, ice, snow must be continuous before you put on the chains is of course not so easy to define.

Actually, I think a driver might be more likely to get a fine for having chains on when they are not needed. Again, defining that is difficult. You mention a 'tiny layer of snow', which might not merit putting the chains on. The quote the OP found is quite clear, "these may only be used in case the road is covered by a complete or scarcely broken snow cover or sheet of ice."
But it doesn't say, how thick, for what distance, etc. So that leaves it open to interpretation. A thin layer can be a complete layer or scarcely broken layer which would make using chains legal according to the quote. But how thick a layer? One centimetre? Two?

The quote also makes it clear than for 'in between' conditions, ie. patches of snow or ice, you can drive on summer tires but at the same time it means it is at your own risk. Chains are a complete pain to deal with and knowing when to put them on and take them off is very difficult to determine. In fact, it is almost impossible to even draft a law that would tell you when you have to put them on and off and any ticket issued by the police could be challenged in court unless you were stopped driving on a bare road with chains and no road with snow within l00km of that spot. What if you just came off a snowy sideroad for example. How far can you drive on the bare road before removing the chains? Ten metres? 100? If stopped driving without chains and only summer tires, how far does the snow or ice have to extend behind you and how thick must it be? What if you just came off a bare road onto a snowy side road? There are a lot of permutations that could be considered. It isn't simply a question of someone being stopped on a bare road or a road with a foot of snow on it.

There is no question that overall, you are far better off with winter tires at all times and that is what I suggested to the OP. Not because of the laws, but because of common sense safety and the practicality of dealing with chains.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Old Mar 2, 18, 6:17 pm
  #13  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 1,271
Originally Posted by mihaid View Post
Well, I did not comment on what the law says. This is clear and it was even stated by the OP. I was referring to what can happen (and it did happen to me). I agree, keeping your stand with the police should not normally be an issue, except in instances when the driver and the police donít have the same mother tongue and the policeman doesnít (or claims not to) understand English. But by all means, go ahead and drive without winter tires in Austria (and many other European countries) in winter and advise others to do the same, just because the law says it is not mandatory.

I did not and do not suggest anyone drive without winter tires. Please quote where you think I did.

Thank you for now acknowledging that what I wrote was factual, not just an opinion which is what you first wrote as if it were fact. You have now reversed yourself and got it right.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Old Mar 2, 18, 6:23 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: EWR, NJ / OTP, RO / KUL, MY
Programs: UA (1K), OZ (Diamond)
Posts: 231
Originally Posted by dulciusexasperis View Post
I did not and do not suggest anyone drive without winter tires. Please quote where you think I did.

Thank you for now acknowledging that what I wrote was factual, not just an opinion which is what you first wrote as if it were fact. You have now reversed yourself and got it right.
The FACT is I got fined, that was not an opinion.
mihaid is offline  
Old Mar 2, 18, 6:27 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: EWR, NJ / OTP, RO / KUL, MY
Programs: UA (1K), OZ (Diamond)
Posts: 231
And you still did not tell us: did you or did you not drive in Austria in winter? You made me curious ��
mihaid is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread