To begin with, it is useful to refresh a bit of the legislation, which says regarding winter footwear that: “In the period from November 1 to March 31, if a) there is a continuous layer of snow, ice or frost on the road, or b) it is possible to the weather conditions, assume that there may be a continuous layer of snow, ice or frost on the road during driving, a motor vehicle of category M or N can be used to drive in traffic on the road only under the condition of using winter tires, namely for motor vehicles with with a maximum permissible mass not exceeding 3,500 kg on all wheels and for motor vehicles with a maximum permissible mass exceeding 3,500 kg on all wheels of drive axles with permanent transmission of driving force.’

Photo: Jan Majurník

Legislation can be contradictory when interpreted in practice, however, it is usually better to put on winter tires and not take risks. On the other hand, this regulation is only valid from 1 November to 31 March, so on 1 April, according to the law, you can legally go out into a blizzard on summer holidays.

“Winter tires according to the first sentence must have a tread depth of the main tread grooves or notches of at least 4 mm and for motor vehicles with a maximum permissible weight exceeding 3,500 kg at least 6 mm.”

From what has been quoted, it follows that you do not have to immediately change your shoes when the 1st of November strikes, however, if there is any contact with a police patrol, either in the form of a road check or an accident, it can be somewhat tricky to determine whether there really is a continuous layer of snow, ice on the road or icing, or whether it can really be expected. Disagreement means a dispute, a dispute in turn will trigger administrative proceedings, or a court.

However, if the outdoor conditions or the condition of unsuitable tires (summer, tread depth) are evidently clear, the period is between 1 November and 31 March, and you agree to the offence, you can collect a fine from the police with an on-the-spot order of up to 2,000 CZK ( after the amendment from January 1, 2024 to CZK 1,500, or agreement). If you escalate the case, you can “win” a patch from CZK 1,500 to CZK 2,500 in the standard administrative procedure (from CZK 2,000 to CZK 5,000 after the amendment).

Photo: Jan Majurník

Our police regularly focuses on the use of winter tires.

In addition, in the event of an accident handled by the police, it often does not matter whether you were at fault or the victim of the accident regarding the tires. Justice can be blind in this case: if you don’t follow the law, you will pay.

In connection with the accident, it is also necessary to take into account “extralegal” consequences, for example, how the insurance company will deal with such a case. And that is a separate chapter…

The insurance company will investigate

We also visited the other side of the barricade and approached one of the largest insurance companies in the Czech Republic. So, what if, as a driver, you cause an accident during the winter season (November 1 to March 31) on summer tires? On behalf of Kooperativa, press spokesman Milan Káňa commented on the question.

“One case for all – a driver in slush crashed into a vehicle slowing down in front of him. The expert opinion proved that if the vehicle had been equipped with the appropriate winter tires, the accident would not have occurred.”

“Therefore, we paid the insurance benefit from the liability of the tortfeasor to the injured party, but at the same time we were forced to recover the entire amount from the tortfeasor of the accident.”

Photo: Police of the Czech Republic

The insurance company will usually investigate whether or not summer tires or winter tires with insufficient tread contributed to the accident or not.

“We would proceed similarly in the case of accident insurance, there we could reduce the payment of the insurance benefit to the client, for example we would deduct a double deductible from him.”

“The important thing is that the influence of the use of unsuitable tires on the occurrence of the damage must be proven. So we don’t apply the penalty automatically.”

We learned important information through a letter from the Cooperative’s press spokesperson. If it is proven that the used tires had an impact on the accident, compensation for the injured party can be partially or fully recovered from the culprit. And this despite the fact that the culprit had valid liability insurance, but did not comply with the law and the direct influence of inappropriate footwear on the accident was proven. And this also applies to an accident, when the insurance company can reduce the insurance payment.

Photo: Police of the Czech Republic

Accident in winter on summer tires? There is a risk of shortening the performance or its enforcement.

If the injured party was wearing summer tires during the accident, he would probably not be penalized in any way, unless it was proven that the unsuitable tires had an effect on the damage. However, if proven, he could have a problem (complicity, shortening of performance) even as a victim.

The above works for Kooperativa, where the influence of summer or otherwise unsuitable tires on the accident must be proven. However, it is quite possible that other insurance companies will follow suit.

“Typical winter damage is failure to maintain a safe distance. We deal with 70,000 liability claims annually, where in almost thirty-five percent of cases the cause is failure to maintain a safe distance between vehicles. Mostly it is minor sheet metal damage with an average amount of damage of around thirty thousand,” adds Káňa to the issue of winter accidents.

Watch out for the c15a brand!

As soon as you enter the section marked with traffic sign C15a “Winter equipment”, you must have winter tires. This brand imposes the obligation to have winter tires on the car regardless of the weather and date. It is usually supplemented with an additional table stating that it is valid until March 31, and ended with the mark c15b, which is the same mark as in the picture, only crossed out in red.

Photo: Ministry of Transport

The C15a brand indicates winter equipment.

It’s not a perennial like a perennial

Suitable winter footwear is easy to recognize, it has an embossed alpine shield and a snowflake (symbol 3PMSF) on the side, or for the Czech Republic, only the designation M+S, MS, M/S or MS (mud, snow) is sufficient for winter use. Attention, in neighboring Germany (outside of the exceptions there), winter tires are taken as having an Alpine shield and a flake, only M+S, MS, M/S, MS are not enough here.

Photo: Jan Majurník

The symbol of the alpine shield with a flake indicates a full-fledged winter pattern.

Furthermore, we have the phenomenon of all-season tires, which today are divided into two basic types. Those that have an alpine shield and a flake, but then also to those that only have M+S, MS, M/S or MS. However, both types are legally sufficient for winter operation in the Czech Republic. There are also standard all-season tires that do not have a single marking on the sidewall. Such tires then do not meet the domestic legislative specifications of winter tires.

Photo: Jan Majurník

You can find the POR brand on all-terrain tires.

There are also certain exceptions, as special tires with the POR (Professional Off-Road) mark are legally sufficient for work machines or off-road vehicles for the winter. A winter pattern is also considered to be one with ET, ML or MPT stamped on the sidewall of the tyre. Such special tires can be found, for example, on vehicles operating in the agricultural industry.

And what about you, do you switch to winter shoes, ride all-year-round shoes, or risk the winter with summer shoes? Feel free to let us know in the poll below.

What kind of footwear do you choose for the winter season?

I’m switching to winter tires.

I ride year-round.

I will leave it on the summer holidays.

I don’t ride at all in the winter season.

A total of 20 readers voted.