As of November 1, 2021, winter equipment will become mandatory in certain mountainous regions of 49 French departments.
Vehicles will have to be equipped with removable anti-skid devices or “winter” tires during the winter period from November 1 to March 31 of the following year.
The road transport of goods will also be affected by this new regulation, according to the decree of October 16, 2020 N°2020-1264, the heavy goods vehicles will have to circulate either with winter tires or with chains or snow socks.
In progress : Ain (01), Allier (03), Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04), Hautes-Alpes (05), Alpes-Maritimes (06), Ardèche (07), Ariège (09), Aude (11), Aveyron (12), Cantal (15), Corrèze (19), Corse-du-Sud (2A), Haute-Corse (2B), Côte-d’Or (21), Doubs (25), Drôme (26), Gard (30), Haute-Garonne (31), Hérault (34), Isère (38), Jura (39), Loire (42), Haute-Loire (43), Lot (46), Lozère (48), Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), Moselle (57), Nièvre (58), Puy-de-Dôme (63), Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64), Hautes-Pyrénées (65), Pyrénées-Orientales (66), Bas-Rhin (67), Haut-Rhin (68), Rhône (69), Haute-Saône (70), Saône-et-Loire (71), Savoie (73), Haute-Savoie (74), Tarn (81), Tarn-et-Garonne (82), Var (83), Vaucluse (84), Vosges (88), Yonne (89), Territoire de Belfort (90)
Why the mountain law?
The decree published in the Official Journal on October 18, 2020, provides for the obligation to equip one’s vehicle with winter tires each year between November 1 and March 31 of the following year. Exemptions may be defined by decree on certain road sections and certain relief routes. They will be issued by order of the departmental prefect.
Implemented by the Mountain Law II of December 28, 2016, the measure aims to “improve the safety of users in case of snow and ice, and limit the blockage of roads in mountainous regions” according to Road Safety.
Which areas are affected?
A total of 48 departments are affected by this new regulation. The communes potentially concerned are those belonging to a mountain range such as the Alps, Corsica, the Massif Central, the Jura Mountains, the Pyrenees, the Vosges Mountains, etc.
Each Prefect will have to issue a decree listing the communes in which the equipment obligations will apply. A press release from the Ministry of the Interior dated October 4, 2021 states that “the prefects of the departments concerned will draw up by November 1 the list of municipalities where users will have the choice of keeping chains in their trunks or equipping their vehicles with winter tires during the winter period and will decide on any exemptions on certain roads”.
A map can already be consulted on the Road Safety website, it lists the departments in the forecast and will be updated by November 1.
Winter tires, which devices are adopted?
Chains, winter tires, studded tires, what equipment is required?
Drivers will have to be equipped with or have anti-skid devices (chains or socks) or winter tires.
As soon as a driver crosses a department affected by the new law, he will have to store chains or socks in his vehicle.
As for winter tires, they will have to respect certain obligations.
For the first year of implementation (November 1 to March 31, 2021), tires must be marked with the “alpine symbol” AND one of the “M+S”, “M.S” or “M&S” markings OR the “M+S”, “M.S” or “M&S” markings only.
As of November 1, 2024, they will have to fall under the designation “3PMSF” (3 Peak Mountain Snow Flake), identifiable by the presence of the “Alpine Symbol” marking AND one of the “M+S”, “M.S” or “M&S” markings.
Obligations for the road transport of goods
All vehicles with four or more wheels are affected by this regulatory change: light vehicles, commercial vehicles, buses and heavy vehicles.
M1 and N1 category vehicles, light vehicles and light commercial vehicles
Possess chains allowing to equip at least two driving wheels OR the wearing of “winter” tires on at least 2 wheels of each axle.
N2, N3 and Truck category vehicles WITHOUT trailer/semi-trailer
Have chains to equip at least two drive wheels OR winter tires on at least two steered wheels of the main steering system AND at least two drive wheels.
Vehicles of category N2, N3 and Heavy trucks WITH trailer/semi-trailer
Must be equipped with chains to equip at least two drive wheels.
Sanctions and signs for winter equipment
It is planned to create a new sign to indicate the entrance to a winter equipment enforcement zone.
A second sign will also specify the winter period (November 1 to March 31).
If a driver drives in a concerned municipality without equipment, he risks a fine of 135 euros.
For the first year of implementation, the Ministry of the Interior recently specified that :
“any failures to comply with this obligation will not be punished in the first year of the implementation of this device, that is, from November 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.”
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