Status: 02.12.2023, 11:30 a.m.
By: Sophia Lavcanski
Again and again, winter causes tricky situations for motorists. There are a lot of things you need to consider. But what is the rule when a road sign is covered in snow?
Even though it rarely snows properly in some regions of Germany and the snow stays on the ground even less often, it can lead to extremely confusing and dangerous situations for road users. There are some important things that motorists need to pay attention to when it comes to snow, ice, and slippery roads on the road. Among other things, when it comes to snow-covered, unrecognizable street signs.
In principle, according to the ADAC, the so-called visibility principle applies to traffic signs. This means that signs must be placed in such a way that the regulation emanating from them can be determined "with a quick and casual glance without further consideration".
What happens if a road sign is covered in snow?
But what if a traffic sign is snowed in and actually unrecognizable? All road users must adhere to the general speed limits in built-up areas and outside built-up areas and drive at an appropriate speed. The ride does not have to be interrupted to scrape the blade free. Nevertheless, there are some items that belong in every car in winter to be prepared for various other situations.
However, there are three exceptions: Firstly, the octagonal traffic sign "Stop" and the triangular traffic sign "Respect the right of way" standing on the top are clearly recognisable due to their shape, and thus remain valid even with snow. Furthermore, even snow-covered no-parking signs remain valid. According to the ADAC, the law requires "that motorists comply with their duty of care and, if necessary, clear the snow from the sign by hand to make sure what is written on it".
Flashed after unrecognizable traffic sign – what helps now
If a speed camera is triggered after an unrecognisable traffic sign, the fine can be appealed. To do this, it must be proven that the sign was covered in snow and the speed limit was not legible. Weather reports from the German Weather Service can be requested as an aid. Since these usually cost money, it's worth driving back to the sign and taking photos of the spot – after the vehicle has been safely parked and the engine turned off.
If the speed check by the police takes place directly, the snow-covered sign can also be easily shown to the officers on site and the chances of credibility are higher. But beware: In the case of drivers who are familiar with the area, the penalty may remain in place despite the snow-covered sign, as it can be expected that the rules applicable there are known if the route is driven regularly.