If you are planning a skiing holiday this winter and intend to fly to your destination and hire car, then be warned — driving conditions could be quite different to what you are used to at home.
Leading European car hire specialist Europcar warns that you need to book ahead and make sure your car is equipped to meet any additional legal requirements that may apply in mountainous regions — such as winter tyres or snow chains.
Europcar has provided a quick snapshot of driving requirements in key European winter holiday destinations to help winter sports fans plan.
According to regional legislation, those setting off for skiing in Northern and some parts of Central Italy between November and the end of April must ensure they drive a car fitted with winter tyres or have snow chains on board when driving on certain signposted roads. It is therefore advisable to have snow chains in the vehicle or ensure winter tyres are fitted when driving anywhere during this period.
Due to high demand in this area, Europcar recommends customers who require a car with winter tyres (available at additional cost) to book in advance to ensure availability. In addition Europcar Italy offers snow chains and ski racks as add-ons for winter car hire. Currently there is also a special product available which offers 50% of ski racks and Sat Nav for cars booked with winter tyres.
A hugely popular destination for skiing during winter is France, and Europcar France offers additional winter equipment for its customers to meet this demand. Indeed certain vehicles on the Europcar France fleet – including some prestige models – come already equipped with snow tyres (check when booking), and for other vehicles Europcar offers rental of snow tyres for an additional fee.
In addition ski racks and snow chains are available as add-ons from certain locations, plus customers can purchase snow socks for use on their vehicle.
In Germany, it is a legal requirement to have winter tyres fitted during icy conditions. Failure to comply with this can lead to a fine and, if you cause an accident, this fine can then be increased. Between 15th November 2012 and 15th March 2013, all Europcar Germany’s vehicles are fitted with winter tyres as standard, however in the period running up to November or after March next year winter tyres will need to be booked in advance (at extra cost).
Drivers should also be aware that if they rent a vehicle from another country and drive into Germany it will be their responsibility to have winter tyres fitted to the vehicle.
Europcar Germany also offers snow chains, as well as ski racks and ski bags as add-ons to a hire, however these should be booked at least 48 hours in advance and are more readily available at winter sport destinations in the south of the country.
Better known for its sandy beaches and Mediterranean climate, Spain also has some great winter sports facilities, with 35 ski resorts across the country.
With the Spanish sun still shining even during the winter months, snow chains are not always necessary, however Europcar Spain customers are advised to carry these in their vehicle. In incidents of bad weather controls can be put in place to stop vehicles without the necessary chains. These are available (at extra cost) as an add-on to a vehicle hire from most Europcar Spain winter resort locations.
“Europcar’s rental agents will of course ensure they inform customers of any requirements for driving when they collect a vehicle” added Ken McCall. “But it’s always a good idea for customers to be prepared before they arrive to collect their vehicle, to avoid any last minute delays.
“The key to any winter holiday is preparation. And that includes car hire from the airport to the resort. Booking early is the best way for winter holidaymakers to get the best deals and ensure availability of any extras they may need.”