PREPARATIONS FOR WINTER CONDITIONS

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 7:12:00 AM

Winter is coming, and with it the low temperatures, shorter days, fog, snow, rain and other peculiarities that make driving difficult. 

We need to know that reaching our destinations will take much longer than in ideal conditions. Stopping distances will be longer and roads will host snow ploughs and other winter services.

WINTER GEAR

Article 28 of the Road Traffic Rules Act, Off. Gaz. of RS, No. 82/2013 (https://www.uradni-list.si/glasilo-uradni-list-rs/vsebina/2013-01-3031?sop=2013-01-3031) states that all motor and trailer vehicles driving on Slovenian roads during the winter months (from 15 November to 15 March the following year) need to be equipped with winter gear.

Winter gear includes the following (Rules on the parts and equipment of vehicles, Off. Gaz. of RS, No. 44/2013, Article 20):

With two-track motor vehicles whose maximum permissible weight does not exceed 3,500kg and with trailer vehicles being towed:

  • winter tyres on all wheels, or
     
  • summer tyres and adequately large snow chains for the drive wheels or chain-equivalent accessories
     
  • The approval authority in the Republic of Slovenia approves the equivalence of accessories (Off. Gaz. of RS, No. 44/2013, Article 22).
     
  • Four-wheel drive vehicles must have snow chains for at least one axil when running full-time, or at least for the engaged axil when running part-time.
     
  • Vehicles using winter gear as per indent two must have appropriate snow chains or chain-equivalent accessories correctly installed on all their drive wheels during winter conditions (Rules on the parts and equipment of vehicles, Off. Gaz. of RS, No. 44/2013, Article 22).

With two-track motor vehicles whose maximum permissible weight exceeds 3,500kg and with trailer vehicles being towed:

  • winter tyres on at least the drive wheels, or
     
  • summer tyres and adequately large snow chains for drive wheels or chain-equivalent accessories

  • Four-wheel drive vehicles must have snow chains for at least one axil when running full-time, or at least for the engaged axil when running part-time.
     
  • In addition, the equipment of these vehicles must include a shovel.
     
  • Vehicles using winter gear as per indent two must have appropriate snow chains or chain-equivalent accessories correctly installed on all their drive wheels during winter conditions (Off. Gaz. of RS, No. 44/2013, Article 22).
     
  • Winter gear includes tyres with a tread depth of at least 3mm.
     
  • Winter tyres with a tread depth of less than 3mm are considered summer tyres. Winter tyres are tyres containing the manufacturer markings "M+S", "M.S" or "M&S" on their side.

MANDATORY WINTER GEAR EXCEPTIONS

Vehicles driving in the sub-coastal regions of Slovenia may also have summer tyres with a tread depth of at least 3mm.

A sub-coastal area is part of the land in the Republic of Slovenia that borders on the Adriatic Sea, the border with the Republic of Italy, the border with the Republic of Croatia, as well as the following roads (which are not within this area):

•    R3 627 – section 3761 Osp border crossing – Črni Kal;
•    R1 208 – section 1434 Črni Kal - Aver;
•    R2 208 – section 1059 Aver - Gračišče;
•    R3 626 – section 3726 Gračišče - Brezovica pri Gradinu border crossing.

If vehicles leave these areas, then they need to have appropriate winter gear installed!

FOG

Fog reduces visibility in traffic. It is most common in the autumn and is also present in other seasons. In the winter when the bright part of the day is shorter, fog, in addition to all the other challenging conditions on the road, makes driving difficult. 

  • reduce your speed gradually and in time and adjust it to the road visibility
  • increase your safety distance
  • activate fog lamps as needed

DARS recently implemented several measures with which it wished to increase road safety during reduced visibility.

New traffic signs were placed at problematic sections. A marking system was also implemented on roads with half circles along the right line and traffic signals.

The visibility management system includes road and weather stations that activate an alarm during poor visibility, which in turn activates red LED lights, thus guiding the driver along the edge of the road.

In thick fog, when visibility is dangerously low, these lights blink, warning drivers to focus and pay more attention. 

RUNNING LIGHTS AND FOG LAMPS

Running lights (or dim lights) are mandatory in Slovenia. Running lights are additional lights on each vehicle that automatically turn on when starting the vehicle when conditions are less bright.

Running lights are only active at the front, not at the back. Some vehicles are equipped with an automatic system for activating the running lights, which detects poor light conditions and activates when the light is low (e.g. in tunnels). 

 

Poor visibility in rainy conditions (spray from under the wheels of the vehicle in front, which creates a water curtain), fog or the low sun position in the wintertime pose a problem; spotting non-illuminated vehicles in front is harder for drivers, who may spot them too late, and the system does not activate the running lights in most of these cases. Drivers must make sure their vehicle remains visible.

Article 71 of the Road Traffic Rules Act states that drivers must use running lights and activate their rear lights or fog lights or a combination of such lights when visibility is low. 

Fog lamps are allowed when visibility is less than 50m or when fog lamps work as adjustable lights.

FROST

Driving on frozen roads is similar to driving on snowy roads, with the exception that snow is visible while ice blends in very well with the colour of the road; drivers may thus fail to spot frost until it is too late.

LARGER WATER QUANTITIES ON THE ROAD

Aquaplaning is a phenomenon when the tyre loses grip on the surface due to large amounts of water.

In a worst-case scenario, the driver may completely lose control of the vehicle.

Hit the clutch pedal, do not steer with the steering wheel, hold it firmly and do not brake.

Wait for the tyre to regain its grip on the road surface.

 

FINES FOR VIOLATIONS IN THE WINTER AND DURING WINTER CONDITIONS

  • EUR 40 if a motor vehicle or trailer does not have appropriate winter gear in the winter or during winter conditions or if the driver of such vehicles acts in contravention of a traffic sign stating the mandatory usage of snow chains.
     
  • EUR 500 and 5 penalty points if a vehicle that does not have the prescribed equipment stops on the road or hinders traffic. Also if they fail to observe traffic signs indicating winter conditions due to which traffic is prohibited or restricted in certain parts of the road.
     
  • EUR 200 due to an unclean motor or trailer vehicle. The vehicle must have no snow, ice, water or other substances that could fall or spill from it. Windows and rear-view mirrors must be clean to allow normal visibility for the driver.
     
  • EUR 300 in the winter or during winter conditions due to non-compliance with traffic signs indicating winter conditions due to which traffic is prohibited or restricted in certain parts of the road.
     
  • EUR 1,000 is imposed upon a legal person or sole proprietor (EUR 120 upon their responsible person) if a vehicle does not have appropriate winter gear in the winter or during winter conditions, if the vehicle stops on the road and hinders traffic due to inappropriate winter gear and in the event of non-compliance with traffic signs prohibiting or restricting traffic in certain parts of the road (ZPrCP, Off. Gaz. of RS, No. 82/2013, Article 29).
     
  • Pursuant to Article 17 of the ZPrCP, the police shall prohibit further driving and remove a motor vehicle or trailer vehicle from traffic if they do not have the prescribed winter gear during winter conditions or if they have snow, ice, water or other substances that could affect the driving properties of the vehicle or if they could fall or spill from the vehicle or if the windows and rear-view mirrors of the vehicle are not clean. Removal of the vehicle shall last until the reasons for the imposition thereof are eliminated.
     
  • In line with Article 29, paragraph 4 of the ZPrCP, the police may order the removal of a vehicle that comes to a halt on the road because it does not have the prescribed winter gear or if they are participating in traffic when they should not be if the driver fails to immediately remove such a vehicle from the road. In such cases, the person performing regular road maintenance shall remove the vehicle at the expense of the vehicle’s owner.

 

PLOUGHING

Even though road maintenance workers do not have the same authority as the police, their road warnings are not an end in itself. We therefore recommend compliance with their instructions, especially during heavy snowfall. 

Ploughing snow from roads and sweeping roads is impossible if drivers do not respect the placed signs and especially if lorry drivers do not respect the Road Traffic Rules Act, which demands the exclusion of vehicles from traffic in such cases. 

This is why queues of vehicles spanning many kilometres form in winter on certain road sections and drivers need to wait many hours. Because the roads are full of vehicles in all traffic lanes, road cleaning becomes impossible.

In extreme conditions, the road manager may completely close off a certain motorway or expressway section if:

  • more than 30cm snow falls in three hours
     
  • There are heavy winds or bora winds of more than 100km/h
     
  • there are many traffic accidents or other events
     
  • visibility is heavily reduced.

 

GOODS VEHICLES

In line with Article 5 of the Order on road traffic restrictions in the Republic of Slovenia, goods vehicles with trailers, vehicles transporting hazardous goods and non-scheduled transport vehicles are not allowed to drive on roads in the Republic of Slovenia during winter conditions, except for motorways and expressways.

The self-removal of goods vehicles thus applies. The removal locations are marked with appropriate traffic signals.

Additional winter signs are placed at critical sections (slopes), which prohibit goods vehicle traffic.

Drivers of goods vehicles often do not respect the self-removal obligation and traffic signs and concessionaires thus ask the police to physically remove them. 

The motorway and expressway manager may restrict traffic, in terms of time and space, on these roads due to winter conditions for the above vehicles.

The road manager shall inform the public of the imposition of the traffic restriction measures and shall set up traffic signalization for the purposes of removal where possible.

There are 7,200 parking spaces for removing vehicles on motorways and expressways in Slovenia, of which 5,658 are on emergency lanes and 1,542 are at rest areas or border crossings.

A uniform signalisation is used for the removal of vehicles; two signs - restrictions applicable for trailers and semi-trailers or for vehicles over 7.5 tonnes in mass.

Goods vehicles are removed from traffic when one of the following conditions are met:

  • if it is forecasted that more than 20cm of snow will fall within three hours,
  • bora wind over 80km/h,
  • police instructions,
  • removal abroad,
  • greater number of traffic accidents,
  • the road manager’s assessment,
  • heavily reduced visibility.

© 2006-2021 Prometno-informacijski center za državne ceste, DARS d.d.