VICENZA, Italy -- The U.S. Army Garrison Italy Directorate of Emergency Services reminds community residents that all motor vehicles, including motorcycles and four-wheel-drive vehicles, must have clearly marked winter or all-season tires when there is black ice, snow, slush, ice or frost on European roads.
That means it is time to change summer tires to all-season or winter tires.

In most parts of the country, for driving purposes, winter lasts from Nov. 15 to April 15, though in the Aosta Valley it starts Oct. 15, and in other mountainous regions on Nov. 1.

Many areas in Italy require M+S rated tires on cars from Nov. 15 to April 15, but if Soldiers, civilians or their families are traveling into the Alps (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), those dates are Oct. 15 through Easter.

Winter tires reduce braking on slick road conditions by 42 percent compared to all-season tires. If drivers are involved in a traffic accident, or stopped by law enforcement and inspected in one of the aforementioned countries, drivers could face hefty fines for not having proper tires.

The rules in Italy, set by each region, revolve around the requirement to carry snow chains on particular roads over the winter period -- as denoted by signs -- though tires marked M&S, MS or M+S are a legally acceptable alternative. Fines for not having the proper tires range from €80 to €318.

According to the UN-ECE-Regulation (ECE-R 30 and 54), EC Directives (Directive 92/23 EEC), and Road Traffic Ordinance (�36), winter tires must be marked with M+S (M&S, M.S.). This applies also to all-season tires, which are marked accordingly. Some useful information is also the "snowflake" or "mountain" marking (in addition to the M + S marking), which certifies the tire passed a test on its winter qualities.

However, this marking is not compulsory. The marking M+S is sufficient for a winter or an all-season tire. The marking is on the sidewall and specifies that the tire is still safe in mud and snow (better traction).

In lieu of snow or all-season tires, drivers may use snow chains, and the chains must be on board if vehicle is not equipped with winter or all-season tires.

The following link can provide general information about winter tire rules around Europe: