It's time to show the winter who's in charge!

Without clear regulations on winter or all-season tires, we will not reduce the number of accidents in winter or unblock roads
No requirement to drive on winter-approved tyres (winter or all-season) means that in our climate in the winter months we have a lot of accidents, bumps and deaths. It is not known why the Ministry of Infrastructure did not solve this problem, since as many as 82% of drivers expect the legislator to finally adopt the requirement of winter-approved tyres[1]. Such regulations should be introduced in the period from December 1 to March 1 – because at that time throughout the country temperatures are below 7 degrees C. The lack of this obligation means that in the middle of February, in the cold winter, many cars still drive summer tyres.

– We really do have such a climate. It is not surprising that in February there is snow and bitter frost. It is strange that we do not have – as the only ones in Europe with such a climate – regulations on winter and all-season tyres. And that there are a large number of drivers riding on summer rubber, the tread of which has plastic hardness in such weather. They're not driving carefully. They stand carelessly – blocking the roads and creating blockages, because they are unable to drive up the slightest hill. How many more bumps and accidents have to happen due to snow to introduce in our country, like in other 29 European countries, a clear obligation to drive on winter or all-season tyres? – alarms Piotr Sarnecki, General Director of the Polish Tyre Industry Association (PTIA).


In 29 European countries that have introduced a requirement to drive on winter or all-season tyres, the law specifies the period or conditions of such regulations. Most of them are specific calendar dates – such regulations exist in as many as 16 countries. Only 2 countries have this obligation defined by road conditions. Specifying the date of the requirement is the best solution in this case – it is a clear and precise provision, leaving no doubts.

Driving on winter or approved all-seasons tyres means an average 46% reduction in the probability of a road accident compared to driving summer tyres – these are the conclusions of the European Commission study of selected aspects of tyre use related to safety[2]. This report also proved that in countries where the requirement for winter approved tyres was introduced as a legal requirement – reduction in the number of fatal accidents was noticed on average by 3% – and there are countries that have seen a 20% drop in accidents. In all countries that require winter tyres, this also includes all-season tyres.

Requirements of winter tyres in Europe:



Calendar obligation

(specified by different dates)

Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia Sweden, Finland
Belarus, Russia, Norway, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldavia, Macedonia, Turkey

An obligation depending only on weather conditions

Germany, Luxemburg

Mixed obligation calendar-wheather

Austria, Croatia, Romania, Slovakia

An obligation imposed by signs

Spain, France, Italy

The driver's obligation to adapt the car to winter and the financial consequences of causing an accident with summer tyres

Switzerland, Liechtenstein

Poland is the only country in the European Union with such a climate where the regulations do not provide for the requirement to drive winter or all-season tyres in autumn and winter conditions. Workshop observations still show that as many as 1/3, i.e. about 6 million drivers, drive summer tyres in winter[3]. This indicates that there should be clear rules – from which date such tyres should be fitted to a car. Every year, for several decades, over 3,000 people die on Polish roads and almost half a million accidents and road collisions occur. We all pay our bills for this data with rising insurance rates.

Summer tyres do not provide adequate adhesion of the car even on a dry road at temperatures below 7ºC - then the rubber compound in their tread hardens, which deteriorates the grip, especially on wet, slippery roads. The braking distance is lengthened and the ability to transmit torque to the road surface is significantly reduced[4]. The rubber compound of the tread of winter and all-season tyres is softer, and thanks to silica, it does not harden at lower temperatures. This means that they do not lose elasticity and have better grip than summer tyres in cold weather, even on a dry road, in rain, and especially on snow.

Recordings from Auto Express and RAC tests on winter tyres[5] show how much tyres adequate to the temperature, humidity and slippery surface help the driver to control the vehicle and confirm the difference between winter and summer tyres – not only on snowy roads, but also on wet roads while cool autumn and winter temperatures:

Remember that approved winter and all-season tyres are those with the so-called alpine symbol – snowflake on mountain background. The M + S symbol, which can still be found on the tyres, is only a description of the suitability of the tread for mud and snow, however, it is given discretionally by tyre manufacturers. Tyres with M + S alone, but without the snow flake symbol on the mountain, lack the softer winter rubber compound - which is crucial in cold conditions. A self-contained M + S without an Alpine symbol means that the tyre is neither a winter nor an all-season tyre.

[1] Moto Data Research, Research of cars’ users, 2020

[2] European Commission, Study on some safety-related aspects of tyre use,

[4] K. Waluś, Experimental tests of the hardness of summer car tyres in real ambient temperatures, Mechanic 12/2013 – Attachement 4

[5] Winter Tyres v Summer Tyres: the Truth! - Auto Express,

Source: Polish Tyre Industry Association