“A season of tolerance” for motorists who do not respect the obligation of chains or winter tires

Badly shod but not punished this year: chains, snow or all-season tires become mandatory from November 1 in many mountain municipalities, but their defect will not be “Not sanctioned this winter”, announced this Monday, October 4, the Ministry of the Interior.

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“Any breaches of the obligation to keep snow chains in your boot or to equip your vehicle with winter tires in the departments concerned will not be penalized this winter”, the ministry announced on Monday. “Information and educational operations will accompany the implementation of this system in the coming weeks”.

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The “mountain law”

The “Mountain law” of December 2016 requires light vehicles, utility vehicles and motorhomes which circulate in these areas to have in their boot either removable non-slip devices (metal snow chains or ” socks “ textiles), allowing at least two drive wheels to be fitted, or to be fitted with four winter tires (marked “M + S”, “MS” Where “M&S”).

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The prefects of the departments located in mountain ranges were to establish before November 1, in consultation with local elected officials, the list of municipalities where vehicle equipment becomes compulsory during the winter period, that is to say from November 1 to November 31. March.

The prefects of Cantal, Haute-Loire, Haute-Savoie, Puy-de-Dôme and Savoie have issued a decree for all of their departments.

Others have issued decrees concerning only certain municipalities. In the Hautes-Pyrénées, for example, 55 municipalities out of 469 are affected by this obligation, mainly above 1,000 meters in altitude. The obligation concerns the entire municipality in Viscos, but provides for an exception in Adervielle-Pouchergues for the departmental road that crosses the town.

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Several prefects decided on the contrary that there would be no obligation in their department, as in Nièvre, “Taking into account the climatic conditions, the topography and the road links of the department”, but also in Corrèze, Côte-d’Or, Creuse, Haute-Vienne, Lot, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Saône-et-Loire and Tarn-et-Garonne.


For lack of a complete list of the municipalities concerned, and while the icy roads seem distant, many French people still ignore this regulation, which only extends a rule already in place on many dangerous roads.

At the end of September, 65% of motorists had never heard of this obligation, according to an Opinionway survey carried out for the tire specialist Point-S. 86% of motorists consider this measure “Too expensive”, but 30% think they will equip themselves this winter.

“Customers come to the centers to ask a lot of questions and get information”, told AFP Joël Arandel, marketing director of Point S. But for the moment, the distributor has not observed a significant increase in sales of the equipment affected by the law.

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This regulation should above all boost tire sales “All seasons”, underlines for its part Euromaster, subsidiary of Michelin, which indicates “A significant increase in equipment” in this more versatile category.

“Given the effervescence, we anticipated a little more and brought in 30-40% of additional stocks”, explains Gérald Tisseur, responsible for three Point-S centers between Lyon and the Alps.

“Fleet managers, especially leasing sales representatives, have asked their users to make an appointment in advance in the stores, so we have large pre-orders. People are afraid of a shortage ”, explains the professional. “This law may be supported in bad weather. If the winter is warm, only the people who will go to the mountains will equip themselves ”.

New signage must also be gradually implemented. A sign showing a mountain, a suitcase of chains and a tire must indicate the entries and exits of mountain areas where the winter equipment obligation applies.

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Coaches, buses and heavy goods vehicles without a trailer or semi-trailer are subject to the same obligations. For heavy goods vehicles with trailer or semi-trailer, they must have snow chains enabling at least two drive wheels to be fitted, even if they are fitted with winter tires.

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