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France’s new winter tire rules: Drivers won’t face fines in first year

Motorists in 48 French départements set to introduce winter tire regulations from November 1st can relax - the government has said no one will face fines for breaking the rules this year.

France's new winter tire rules: Drivers won't face fines in first year
Photo: Pascal Pochard-Casabianca / AFP

The Loi Montage II (mountain law II) was signed into effect in 2020 and had meant that, from November 1st 2021, drivers in 48 of mainland France’s 96 départements were legally required to have winter or all-weather tires fitted to their vehicles, or carry chains in the boot of their vehicles.

It covers anyone driving in: Ain, Allier, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Ardèche, Ariège, Aude, Aveyron, Cantal, Corrèze, Côte-d’Or, Creuse, Doubs, Drôme, Gard, Haute-Garonne, Hérault, Isère, Jura, Loire, Haute-Loire, Lot, Lozère, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Moselle, Nièvre, Puy-de-Dôme, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrénées, Pyrénées-Orientales, Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin, Rhône, Haute-Saône, Saône-et-Loire, Savoie, Haute-Savoie, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Var, Vaucluse, Haute-Vienne, Vosges, Yonne, Territoire de Belfort and the whole of the island of Corsica.

Under the law, anyone who drives without the correct tires or chains could be fined €135.

Until the announcement, nearly two-thirds of motorists (65 percent) were unaware the law was due to come into force, according to a by Opinionway for tire specialist Point-S. 

The rush to comply with the law led to a shortage of winter tires in parts of the country.

But there will be a year’s grace before any fines or serious crackdown for failing to comply with the general law, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has revealed. 

“Future breaches of the requirement to keep snow chains in your boot or to fit winter tires in the departments concerned will not be punished this winter,” he said.

“Education and information campaigns will take place alongside the introduction of this rule in the next few weeks.”

Police officers may instead pull over drivers and warn them about the new requirements.

His comments came after Secretary of State for Rural Issues Joël Giraud told L’Est Républicain newspaper that the decision to delay implementing the law was because “road signage would not be completely ready by November 1st”. 

Signs in the areas affected by the tire rule will show a symbol of a mountain with a suitcase of chains and a tire.

Giraud noted, too, that the law merely specifies that ‘special equipment’ that is capable of handling winter conditions is required in the 48 départements listed – meaning chains, snow socks, winter tires, or all-season tires were acceptable. 

“I have the impression that manufacturers and snow tire dealers are playing a little music to make people believe that snow tires are mandatory,” he said.

The law will now be enforced with fines from November 1st, 2022.

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TRAVEL NEWS

‘Arrive early’: Passengers at European airports warned of travel disruption

Europe's airports chief told passengers to leave time for delays this summer as the air travel industry struggles to meet surging demand after the pandemic.

'Arrive early': Passengers at European airports warned of travel disruption

“The clear conjunction of a much quicker recovery with a very tight labour market is creating a lot of problems,” Olivier Jankovec, head of the Europe branch of the Airports Council International (ACI), told AFP.

He said there were issues from airports to airlines, ground handlers, police and border controls, but insisted: “The system still works”.

READ ALSO: Budget airline passengers in Europe face travel headaches as more strikes called

“It’s important for passengers that they communicate with the airlines in terms of when they should get to the airport, and prepare to come earlier than usual to make sure to have the time to go through, especially if they have to check luggage,” he said.

Strikes by low-cost pilots and cabin crew across Europe – including this weekend – are adding to the disruption.

Speaking at the ACI Europe annual congress in Rome, Jankovec said airports had taken measures to improve the situation, which would come into effect from mid-July.

“Additional staff will be coming in July, the reconfiguration of some of the facilities and infrastructure to facilitate the flows will also come into effect in July,” he said.

“I think it will be tight, there will be some disruptions, there will be longer waiting times.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

“But I think that in the vast majority of airports, the traffic will go, people will not miss their planes, and hopefully everybody will be able to reach their destination as planned.”

He also defended increases in airport charges, after criticism from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents airlines.

Airports face “the same difficulties and inflationary pressures” as airlines, which he noted were putting their fares up, he said.

“Staff and energy is 45 percent of our operating costs, and of course inflation is also driving up the cost of materials,” he said.

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