Attention America: Wear Socks Over Shoes to Avoid Slipping on Ice

Why didn’t we think of this sooner?

National Journal
Elahe Izadi
See more stories about...
Elahe Izadi
Feb. 13, 2014, 6:46 a.m.

Walk­ing around in the snow and ice that’s hit much of the East Coast can be a treach­er­ous un­der­tak­ing. But for­get fancy snow boots with grips. Just pull some socks over your shoes.

Yes, you heard right. And sci­ence proves it. 

Wear­ing socks over your shoes is a great way to get more trac­tion and avoid slip­ping on ice, ac­cord­ing to a real, ac­tu­al study in the New Zea­l­and Med­ic­al Journ­al, titled “Pre­vent­ing winter falls: a ran­dom­ised con­trolled tri­al of a nov­el in­ter­ven­tion.”

“Wear­ing socks over shoes ap­pears to be an ef­fect­ive and in­ex­pens­ive meth­od to re­duce the like­li­hood of slip­ping on icy foot­paths,” reads the study from Li­anne Par­kin, Sheila Wil­li­ams, and Pa­tri­cia Priest of the Uni­versity of Ot­ago.

How does one go about test­ing this meth­od? In 2008, the re­search­ers ap­proached ran­dom ped­es­tri­ans walk­ing down­hill on icy foot­paths near a uni­versity. They asked them to put on socks (of dif­fer­ent col­ors, for some reas­on). Not every­one was keen to get in­volved. One wo­man agreed to par­ti­cip­ate, then “in­ex­plic­ably turned to walk back up­hill and dis­ap­peared.” Most of those who turned down the of­fer said they were “run­ning late for lec­tures.”

Those who did par­ti­cip­ate, two-thirds of whom said they had fallen on ice be­fore, re­por­ted feel­ing much more con­fid­ent walk­ing on the ice with the socks on. “The only ad­verse events were short peri­ods of in­dig­nity” for some of those try­ing it out, the study ex­plains.

The re­search­ers con­cluded that be­cause the meth­od is simple, safe, and cheap, they “feel in­spired” to ad­opt the prac­tice them­selves.

Of­fi­cials in New Zea­l­and are all over this meth­od. The Du­ned­in City Coun­cil, where the study was con­duc­ted, ad­vises its res­id­ents to pull socks over shoes “to in­crease grip,” which par­tially in­spired the re­search­ers to test this out. Du­nedin­ites would know a thing or two about walk­ing on dif­fi­cult roads: The city is home to Bald­win Street, which claims to be the steep­est res­id­en­tial street in the world.

The re­search­ers ini­tially wanted to test the the­ory out on Bald­win Street but con­cluded that ask­ing par­ti­cipants to walk down the icy road “seemed eth­ic­ally and leg­ally un­wise.” The trio even­tu­ally took home a 2010 Ig No­bel Prize in phys­ics, awar­ded to “re­search that makes people laugh and then think.” 

What We're Following See More »
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
2 days ago

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
2 days ago

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Trump Is Still Ahead, but Who’s in Second?
1 days ago

We may not be talking about New Hampshire primary polls for another three-and-a-half years, so here goes:

  • American Research Group’s tracking poll has Donald Trump in the lead with 30% support, followed by Marco Rubio and John Kasich tying for second place at 16%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 53%-41%.
  • The 7 News/UMass Lowell tracking poll has Trump way out front with 34%, followed by Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13% apiece. Among the Democrats, Sanders is in front 56%-40%.
  • A Gravis poll puts Trump ahead with 28%, followed by Kasich with 17% and Rubio with 15%.
CNN Calls the Primary for Sanders and Trump
1 days ago

Well that didn’t take long. CNN has already declared Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump the winners of the New Hampshire primary, leaving the rest of the candidates to fight for the scraps. Five minutes later, the Associated Press echoed CNN’s call.