Snow socks, winter tires and other traction aids should be given much more serious consideration in the UK:
- In the Netherlands winter tires make up 10% of the market,
- In Germany winter tires make up 50% of the market,
- In the UK winter tires make up less than 3% of the market,
- All of the above countries have similar winter/snow/ice conditions!
Snow socks have been around for a few years but they have never really been mass marketed and because of this there is not really a single established go to brand or outlet where people would instinctively go to pick them up. If you are interested in a pair of snow socks you are probably best checking out the usual suspects, Halfords, Kwik Fit etc.
It is predicted that the next time the UK is subjected to really heavy snow the snow sock will rise to glory, these are the kind of product that people will not usually buy in advance and winter products in general are usually categorized as a distressed purchase. Ironically the peak search volumes online for "snow socks", "tire chains" and all of the other care winter related products usually come in the depth of snow when it would be too late to take delivery of the product, the sales of these product usually fit in with these search volumes with people adopting the attitude that they will prepare themselves for next time.
Snow socks are much easier to fit than tire chains which really are the more heavy duty alternative (although it has been proven that snow socks can provide up to 95% the effective traction that tire chains do – usually at a fraction of the cost and certainly at a fraction of the effort to fit). They have been described as a “get me home” or “get me to that meeting” solution rather than something that you should rely on as a way of ploughing through deep snow as if it was not there!
It is almost impossible to incorrectly fit a snow sock, in fact, if you have fitted a sock to a tire then you can rest assured that you have done it correctly because if it looks like it might be attached then it its, almost like a sock you put on your foot but that cannot be put on inside out….. Simple!
The sock can be used over and over again and is compact so you can easily fit it in your car, while the sock is designed to be reused it is not indestructible and there are certain things you must remember.
- The sock is made of material and designed to increase friction between your tire and the surface that the tire is running on (ice/snow etc), if you are driving in normal conditions the friction between the tire and normal road conditions can quite easily destroy the sock! In other words, don’t use a snow sock in normal road conditions
- The snow sock should not be used to drive at speeds greater than 50mph, this can destroy the sock and its not something that it has been designed to cope with. When you consider the point above regarding only using the sock in winter conditions you should never really encounter this as an issue as, in winter conditions, you would not normally want to be driving in excess of 50mph.
One point of interest for motorists at the moment is the insurance implications of snow socks:
Common sense would dictate that people who add snow socks to their vehicle are taking an extra precaution to stay safe in the winter months some insurance companies are exploiting this rather than rewarding it. This may be to subsidise the £395 million that the Association of British Insurers calculated as the total cost of accidents per year that were directly related to the snow and ice on the roads.
It is worth consulting your insurance company before deciding if you should use snow socks as a few will have an issue with this if you ever need to make a claim, in rare circumstances their use can also affect your premium.
This is because a handful of insurance companies view snow socks (or even the use of winter tires) as a modification to the standard car spec which can bump a premium up!