Spotlight: The dispute over compulsory winter tires

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Spotlight: The dispute over compulsory winter tires


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Spotlight: The dispute over compulsory winter tires

Focus: compulsory winter tires
The dispute over mandatory winter tires

The Federal Ministry of Transport clearly states that scooters and motorcycles also need winter tires when there is snow. It doesn’t matter that most two-wheelers don’t even exist. Banana Republic of Germany? Only the current outside temperatures speak against this designation. However, there is a whole lot more that speaks against compulsory winter tires for motorcycles.

Michael Schumann


When improving the winter tire requirement, nobody in the Federal Ministry of Transport thought of the consequences for motorcycles – this opinion is by no means only widespread among affected motorcyclists. For the vast majority of them, the new regulation that has been in effect since December is almost equivalent to a general winter driving ban. The same opinion is held by spokesmen for the tire industry and even police officers, some of whom have received completely different instructions from their interior ministries than from Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer’s federal authority, which is responsible for the current winter chaos.

This has been the case in Germany since 2006 for “Motor vehicles” winter tires compulsory in winter. But the road traffic regulations have so far failed to define what or when exactly “winter” is. An affected motorist had sued and won the second instance: On July 9, 2010, the Oldenburg Higher Regional Court declared the unclear law unconstitutional. So the Berlin Ministry of Transport had to act and quickly made improvements.

Since December 4th, paragraph two of the StVO has now stipulated that winter tires are mandatory “on black ice, slippery snow, slush, slippery ice or frost”. It applies across the board for “Motor vehicles” and thus, according to the Ministry of Transport, also for motorcycles.

“That’s not true”, argues the Federal Association of Motorcyclists BVDM. Reason: The controversial law calls a quasi-definition of winter tires (a legally binding definition does not yet exist) a European directive (92/23 EEC), which expressly only refers to four-wheeled vehicles. However, since motorcycles have two wheels, they are consequently not affected by the winter tire requirement (see interview). Even several state police authorities had agreed with this opinion. The one mentioned in the interview “internal training paper” However, according to MOTORRAD information, it had to be withdrawn in the meantime. Protecting help from the police is therefore hardly to be expected for affected motorcyclists. And there are already those affected.

Spotlight: The dispute over compulsory winter tires


The Heidenau K 66 Silica (left) is only available in one size.

Immediately after the new regulation came into force, Dieter Damm from Bochum received a fine of 40 euros and a Flensburg point because the tires on his Suzuki GS 500 F did not have the letter combination M + S (mud and snow). His offense: He rode his bike to work on a dry road and four degrees plus in the morning. On his way back it had started to snow slightly around 3 p.m., so he was stopped. The 50-year-old from Bochum, who by no means drives in all weathers, finds it a screaming injustice: “Not with black ice anyway.” After all, with the Heidenau K 66 Silica (below) there would actually be a rubber for his Suzuki that not only fulfills the requirements of a winter tire pro forma.

However, the law can have more serious consequences for bikers than fines and points. “The motor vehicle liability insurance can hold the driver jointly liable if the accident can be traced back to the wrong tires”, let the Ergo insurance announce the winter tire requirement. In other words: Anyone who is run over when it is slippery is your own fault.

Ingo Strater, who, as spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Transport, calls MOTORRAD’s attention to this, is in a similar tone, “that taking part in road traffic with motorcycles in the weather conditions mentioned is particularly dangerous, regardless of the choice of tires.” Aha. But then why have winter tires??

Poll result

Spotlight: The dispute over compulsory winter tires


The Conti TKC 80 has the control mark for winter tires, but its manufacturer says: “This is not a winter tire.”

Since there are (almost) no winter motorcycle tires, there is no need to ask the readers whether they approve of mandatory winter tires. MOTORRAD wanted to know the following in an online survey and received these answers:

I don’t drive on slippery roads, snow and ice anyway.  21.4%
A tangible scandal that amounts to a general winter driving ban for motorized two-wheelers.  60.5%
I don’t care, I drive how and when I want.  7.4%
I worry that the insurance companies will take advantage of this.  10.7%

Spotlight: The dispute over compulsory winter tires


Michael Lenzen, first chairman of the Federal Association of Motorcyclists, BVDM.

? Compulsory winter tires for motorcycles – what does the BVDM say about it?

! Even if the Federal Ministry of Transport is certain: The winter tire requirement does not apply to motorcycles, this is clearly stated in Directive 92/23 / EEC. The BVDM will also have this assessment checked legally. We have also asked the ministry for a clarification discussion. Our legal opinion is also reinforced by a state police authority. In a training paper on the interpretation of the winter tire requirement, she advises the police officers that winter tire requirements do not apply to motorcycles and refers to the aforementioned EU directive. It is clear that the law still has technical flaws, and there is obviously no one in the Federal Ministry of Transport who is familiar with motorcycles. Unfortunately, the BVDM, although registered in the Bundestag’s lobby list, has not been asked to comment on mandatory winter tires. I don’t even want to address the topic of tire binding as a German special route, nor that with a few exceptions (scooters) there are no winter tires for motorcycles.

? But the fact is, at least at the time of going to press for this issue, that the Federal Ministry of Transport is stubbornly sticking to its position. Therefore the elephant meeting organized by the BVDM has to be canceled?

! Even if there is a lot of uncertainty among motorcyclists due to the law: The BVDM organizes the elephant meeting without restrictions. We recommend all motorcyclists, as always, to come to the oldest winter meeting for two-wheelers in the Bavarian Forest. We have made a paper available for download on our homepage, which can serve as an argumentation aid in the event of an inspection. We are also convinced that the police in Bavaria also share our legal opinion. We will clarify this in a timely manner in talks. There is no reason not to come to the elephant meeting. We are sure to be able to welcome many thousands of participants again who will not be unsettled by this flawed law.

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