Currently, many drivers in Latvia have chosen to equip their cars with tires marked with the designation "M+S", from the English words "mud" and "snow", but in Latvia it is customary to call them "all season" tires, even though this is not quite accurate.
And it is precisely the users of these tires who could be affected by the planned changes, because CSDD experts are questioning whether "all season" tires should really be seen as suitable for a harsh Baltic winter. This was confirmed by Jānis Liepiņš, head of CSDD's technical department:
"If there is only the M+S designation, as has been the practice until now, they may no longer be considered winter tires."
A new law could establish that only those tires marked with the mountain and snowflake icon are considered true winter tires. This internationally introduced designation indicates that the tire has passed enhanced tests and is recognized as suitable for driving in snow and ice conditions.
There are also tires that have both the "M+S" designation and the snowflake mountain. They are also likely to be valid. In any case, the changes won't take effect immediately.
"Currently, we are looking at how this can be incorporated into law. And there will definitely be some kind of transitional period, so that the current tires can be worn out calmly and then new ones can be bought with the appropriate marking," said Liepiņš.
Theoretically, it will also be possible to drive with the new standard of winter tires for the whole year, unless, of course, they have studs. However, because winter tires have a softer rubber composition, they wear out faster and perform worse in the warm temperatures of the summer months, so this could be a false economy.
The intended changes are also considered justified by tire dealers, because currently a very wide range of tires are marked with "M+S".
"According to the tread, this is a summer tire, but according to the designation "M+S" this is a tire that can be driven in Latvia in winter conditions," explained Gundars Liekne, head of the tire sales department of "Inter Cars".
Along with labeling clarifications CSDD is considering the possibility of changing the time period when the car must be equipped with winter tires. Winter on the roads currently from December 1 to March 1, but these dates may change in the future, possibly shifting according to weather conditions at the time.