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The German parliament is considering legislation that would make winter tires mandatory nationwide on all cars during the snowy season.

Drivers could possibly face fines if found to be driving without winter or all-season tires, according to information from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.

If the legislation passes, it would be tacked on to the German Road Traffic Ordinance Act and would take effect in 2006, according to details provided to AAFES by the ADAC automobile club, the German equivalent of AAA.

The ADAC information states that summer tires on winter roads have repeatedly led to “massive” traffic jams and are a higher accident risk, leading to the legislative proposal.

The Bundesrat house of the German parliament will consider the regulation on Dec. 21, said Katrin Liedel, a Bundesrat spokeswoman.

If the law is passed, its relevance will vary by German location, and how much snow accumulates, said Harald Drobig, who manages automotive centers on U.S. Army bases in Grafenwöhr, Vilseck and Hohenfels.

Drivers will know if their tires are snow-ready by a “M+S” on the side of the wheel, Drobig said, adding that he rarely sells summer tires, and most American vehicles have all-weather tires anyway. “M+S” stands for mud and snow.

Some German insurance companies do not pay accident claims if they happen in winter weather on a car with summer tires, said Thomas Bohling, owner of Bohling Insurance Agency in Darmstadt.

The proposed legislation is a reaction by the parliament to prevent winter accidents that happen because of summer-tire equipped vehicles, Bohling said.

“There were still a lot of people driving around with their summer slicks,” he said. “They’re getting tired of this.”

Different German states have different laws governing snow tires, but the proposed legislation would enforce the requirement nationwide, said Michael Beldermann, a spokesman with Installation Management Agency-Europe.

“The only advice I can give is to have appropriate tires and be prepared for inclement weather,” Beldermann said.


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