Change proactively to winter tyres already before compelling road conditions

20.10.2021 10.13
News item

Now is the time when the roads may be slippery at night and in the morning, even in the southern parts of the country. Particularly hazardous places are bridges and ramps. The ways to avoid potential traffic accidents include preparedness, correct speed adjusted to the circumstances, sufficient safety distances and tyres fit for the weather conditions.

According to the Road Traffic Act, the car must have winter tyres – if the weather or road conditions so require – from the beginning of November to the end of March.

– This means that winter tyres are a must also throughout November and March, if the weather and road conditions so require, Chief Superintendent Heikki Kallio of the National Police Board explains.

But if the weather or road conditions do not call for winter tyres, it is permissible to drive with the summer tyres. 

What are winter tyre road conditions?

– The Act refers to such road conditions where the road network in an area, the smaller roads included, would impose the use of winter tyres for existing or potential slipperiness, Chief Superintendent Kallio specifies.

In individual cases, the traffic control authorities, normally the Police, determines whether the circumstances would make winter tyres necessary. Some of those driving with summer tyres in winter conditions may cause crashes or driving off the road. 

Legislation underlines personal responsibility

The Road Traffic Act underlines the road user’s own traffic responsibility. The winter tyre provision also counts on the driver’s judgement.

– When the roads are slippery, you must not drive with summer tyres.  This means that you should not take off in the morning with winter tyres if later in the day, snowfall or otherwise slippery conditions are expected. However, if the slippery conditions come as a “surprise,” you should neither drive back home with your car. 

If there is snow on the road, winter conditions clearly prevail. But if the road is partly icy in a random place after the night frost, we are not necessarily dealing with winter conditions. 

– Under all circumstances, the driver must adjust the speed to the conditions in order not to jeopardise their own and other road users’ safety, he underlines. 

What does Road Traffic Act say?

The new Road Traffic Act (729/2018) entered into force a good year ago. The provisions on winter tyres (Article 105) also changed as follows:

Tyres used in winter times

If the weather or road conditions so require, winter tyres must be used during November, December, January, February and March. The main grooves in the wear surface of the tyres must be at least 3.0 mm deep. This applies to the following vehicles:

  1. car with rating mass of maximum 3.5 tonnes;
  2. van;
  3. special car with rating mass of maximum 3.5 tonnes; 
  4. motorcycle, moped, three-wheeler, four-wheeler, heavy and light four-wheeler;
  5. a trailer hauled by a vehicle referred to above in items 1-4, with the rating or connecting mass of over 0.75 tonnes and maximum 3.5 tonnes.

Should the weather or traffic conditions so require in November, December, January, February and March, a lorry, bus and cars or special cars with the rating mass of over 3.5 tonnes as well as tractors with the structural speed of over 60 km/h, must have, winter tyres on drive axles, excluding the steering drive axle, with the main grooves in the wear surface of the tyres being at least 5.0 mm deep.

On other axles as well as on a trailer drawn or hauled with the vehicles above, all axles must have winter tyres with the main grooves in the surface being at least 3.0 mm deep. This requirement does not apply to combination vehicles constituted by the tractor and trailer or hauled equipment in cases where the maximum speed of the combination vehicle on the road is maximum 60 km/h. 

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