Snow, ice or frost can occur anytime and surprisingly, as observed in the past winter season. The testing organization Dekra advises in the cold season with emphasis on suitable winter tires and explains what matters.
A special profile with more tread grooves and sipes in the tread blocks gives vehicles with winter tires significantly better traction and shorter braking distances on winterly smooth roads than summer tires. Special, cold-flexible rubber compounds also ensure good grip, even at low temperatures.
The legally prescribed minimum tread depth in Germany is 1,6 millimeters, but Dekra recommends that tread depths of at least 4,0 millimeters for winter tires are not undershot. In Austria, a winter tire with less than four millimeter profile does not fulfill the winter tire requirement. Violations can result in heavy fines.
In Germany, a "situational winter tire requirement" applies. In winter road conditions vehicles must therefore be equipped with winter-proof tires. This applies to black ice, Schneeglätte, slush, ice or Reifglätte. Since the beginning of 2019 only tires with the pictogram "mountain with snowflake" are considered as winter-proof. It replaces the M + S character and is only awarded after passing a comparison test.
In case of breaches of the winter tire obligation 60 Euro fines and one point in the Flensburg driving license register, in case of obstruction of others the fine increases to 80 Euro.