Although the use of studded winter tires is prohibited in Iceland over the spring and summer, enforcement of this law varies considerably from region to region, RÚV reports. Per current law, studded tires must be removed starting on April 15, but an inquiry to the National Police Commissioner revealed that five of Iceland’s nine police jurisdictions didn’t issue any citations for winter tire infractions last year.
Police in the East, Northwest, Northeast, Westfjords, and West Iceland districts did not issue a single citation for off-season studded tire use last year. Police in the Westman Islands issued one. Capital-area officers are usually the first to start issuing studded tire citations, but chief inspector Guðbrandur Sigurðsson, who is head of the metropolitan traffic division, says that such fines are generally not issued prior to May 1.
“We take a look at the long-term weather forecast during the first week of May and see whether residents in the surrounding areas need to be concerned about ice,” explained Guðbrandur. “If the long-term forecast looks good, then there’s no reason to be rattling around on studded tires in the capital area.”
Drivers who fail to remove their winter tires for the spring face fines for each studded tire on their vehicle. These fines increased considerably at the start this month, going up from last year’s ISK 5,000 [$49] per tire to ISK 20,000 [$196] / tire. There is an exception written into the law that allows studded tires to be used outside of the season if driving conditions call for it. However, these conditions are not specifically noted within the text of the law.
Reykjavík has long fought for a fee to be instated for the use of studded winter tires, in hopes of reducing small particle air pollution that these contribute to. The city has not, however, been successful in their efforts to levy a fee for studded tire use, as it is not currently legal for municipalities to set their own traffic provisions.