Talvikelit vaativat talvirenkaat - poliisi arvioi käyttötarpeen
Winter tyres required in wintry conditions – the police will assess whether use is necessary

2.3.2021 9.36 | Published in English on 2.3.2021 at 9.42
News item

Pursuant to the new Road Traffic Act, winter tyres must be used, if so required by the weather or road surface conditions, from 1 November to 31 March.

“The new Road Traffic Act introduced stricter rules for the use of winter tyres between 1 November and 31 March, as winter tyres must be used even in November and March, from now on, should the weather or road conditions so require,” says Chief Superintendent Heikki Kallio of the National Police Board.

On the other hand, the reform means that if the use of winter tyres is not required by the weather or road conditions, driving on summer tyres is permitted even in the winter months.

In what kind of weather and road conditions are winter tyres required?

“The Road Traffic Act refers to road conditions in which the use of winter tyres is necessary due to existing or possible slippery road surface conditions in the local road network, including the smaller roads,” explains Chief Superintendent Kallio.

In individual cases, the traffic supervisor, in most cases the police, specifies whether the conditions are such that winter tyres  should be used. Chief Superintendent Kallio says that between November and January, a total of 75 fines and 36 traffic penalty fees have been issued for the use of summer tyres in winter conditions.

“Some drivers having used summer tyres in winter conditions have caused collisions or driven off the road. That is why the police urges people to consider very carefully whether it is wise to drive on summer tyres.”  

The new Road Traffic Act emphasises road users’ responsibility

The purpose of the new Road Traffic Act is to emphasise road users’ responsibility in traffic. The regulation on winter tyres also relies on the driver’s discretion.

“When it is slippery, you must not drive on summer tyres.  This means that you should not go out driving on summer tyres if snow or other slippery conditions are forecast for the day. If the slippery conditions “come as a surprise”, you must not start driving for example back home unless the car has winter tyres,” Kallio says.

If there is snow on the roads, the conditions are clearly wintry. But if occasional sections of the road are icy due to night frost, the conditions are not necessarily classified as wintry. 

Kallio emphasises that in all cases, however, drivers must adapt their driving speed to the conditions so as not to pose a risk to personal safety and that of other road users. 

How does the new Road Traffic Act specify this?

The new Road Traffic Act (729/2018) entered into force on 1 June 2020 and the amended regulations on winter tyres are included in section 105.

Tyres to be used in the winter season

If so required by the weather or road surface conditions, winter tyres must be used in November, December, January, February and March. The minimum tread depth of the tyres’ principal grooves must be 3.0 millimetres and these tyres must be used in the following vehicles:
1) passenger cars with a total mass of no more than 3.5 tonnes;
2) vans;
3) special purpose motor vehicles with a total mass of no more than 3.5 tonnes; 
4) motorcycles, mopeds, tricycles, quadricycles, heavy quadricycles and light quadricycles;
5) trailers towed by vehicles, referred to in paragraphs 1–4, with a category-specific or connected mass exceeding 0.75 tonnes but not 3.5 tonnes.

If so required by the weather or road surface conditions, winter tyres must be used in November, December, January, February and March in the powered axles of trucks, buses and passenger cars or special purpose motor vehicles with a total mass exceeding 3.5 tonnes, and in tractors with a structural speed of more than 60 km/h, with the exception of steered powered axles. The minimum tread depth of these tyres’ principal grooves must be 5.0 millimetres. 

In that case, in other axles and all axles of the trailer and towed device, towed by the aforementioned vehicle, the minimum tread depth of the tyres’ principal grooves must be 3.0 mm. The requirement does not apply to the vehicle combination consisting of a tractor and trailer or towed device in case the maximum permitted road speed of the vehicle combination is 60 km/h. 

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