Are snow socks legal in the UK and Europe?

There are often added precautions to take whilst driving in the winter which aim to improve your safety and increase your confidence as it can often be scary to drive in adverse weather conditions. However, the confusion can often set in when trying to differentiate between what is a legal requirement and what isn’t.

So, snow socks, what actually are they? And what are their benefits? We are here to answer all of your questions to put the myths to bed and provide you with everything you need to know about them.

Basically, they are fabric covers that can be pulled over the tyres to increase the grip on ice and snow. They are perfect to be used on vehicles that are mainly driven around gritted areas but who occasionally encounter some bad weather conditions. The main point to remember is that even though they are cheap and convenient, they should not be used instead of winter tyres, they should simply be used to create more of a grip to the roads surface.

Snow socks are completely legal in the UK, however even though they are helpful and can enhance the safety of a motorist, they are not a necessity. The confusion around the legality has arisen from the mix up between snow socks and snow chains, it is in fact, snow chains that are not allowed to be used normal tyres on well gritted roads. The reasoning behind this is because the chains can cause damage to the road if they are not used properly. Whereas, snow socks are the complete opposite, being made from the softest fabric possible.

On icy roads, snow socks could improve braking distances by around 20m which shows how they could prevent you from having accidents.

It’s essential that you remove the snow socks as soon as the weather has cleared up and we strongly advise that you purchase a set of winter tyres.

In most parts of Europe, winter tyres are mandatory, meaning that it’s likely that you won’t need to use snow socks, even though they are legal.

In treacherous conditions as specific times of the year, you must use snow chains on particular terrains. To put it into perspective, there will be road signs in mountainous areas to warn motorists to fit snow chains or socks before they go any further with the journey.

Ensure that you take the speed limits into consideration if you are using snow socks as it can completely differ to you not using them. However, snow chains are preferred, meaning that if you are ever in an accident and don’t have any snow chains, it could count against you.

Before you drive in different countries in Europe, ensure that you check their specific requirements regarding snow socks, snow chains and winter tyres to ensure that you stay on the right side of the law. See the next section for a breakdown of the different laws in Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.

During the coldest months of the year, winter tyres are a legal requirement and motorists must always carry snow chains, which concludes that snow socks are not actually required.

Winter tyres are recommended in Italy between October and April, but are not a legal requirement. During this period, motorists are required to carry show chains with them, which again, shows that snow socks are not a necessity.

Please be aware, that specific areas within Italy have introduced legislation’s which state that winter tyres are compulsory, so check this out before you travel.

In Spain, motorists need to carry snow chains or have winter tyres fitted, meaning that snow socks are rarely seen around the country. There are signs in specific areas which indicate when snow chains should be used.

Winter tyres are not compulsory in Switzerland, although, they are recommended. However, it is essential to be properly equipped, otherwise you could be left with a hefty fine if you get stuck in the snow whilst you are in traffic.

Even though snow socks are not a compulsory item, we advise that you invest in a pair to help you out during adverse weather conditions and to increase your safety.

Take a look at our Winter Driving Kits to help you out during the colder months and to prepare for an emergency situation.

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