Doubts, concerns and key issues resolved on the new EN 16662-1 official approval
We have been hearing for some time about EN 16662-1, a new standard approved by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), which aims to unify textile and traditional metal chains according to the same precepts.
But do we know exactly what the implications of this standard are? And is certification to this new standard mandatory? We answer these and other questions and try to clarify several points about a standard that has caused no small amount of confusion among customers and dealers.
But first we need to clarify several concepts that arise in our conversations:
What is a norm or standard?
These are documents written and approved by a recognized technical body that set out a series of policies, processes and tests that guarantee the quality of products by verifying that they comply with such requirements.
The EN-16662-1 standard is a document that details the requirements that chains must meet in a series of tests (traction, breakage, running-in, braking, etc.) to verify that the products comply with these parameters.
What is certification?
It is the act through which an authorized certifying body verifies and validates the requirements indicated in a standard through a series of tests, recording the positive results in a written report. Certifications may be voluntary or mandatory in the event that they are required for subsequent approval for legal reasons.
What is official approval?
It is the process through which an administrative authority recognizes, if legally required, that a product complies with norms or standards verified through certification by an independent body.
A look at the background
With regard to snow chains, both for metal as well as textile chains, there have been as many standards used for the certification of chains as there were regulatory bodies. However, for reasons related to the entrenchment of this product in different countries, the most widespread, used and recognized were the Geprüfte Sicherheit or GS certifications issued by TÜV in accordance with German safety standards, and the ÖNORM V5117, V5119 and V5121 issued in accordance with the standards of the Austrian Institute for Standardization.
Although chain certification was required for approval only in a very few countries, the TÜV GS and ÖNORM certifications became the standard in the European market. This was because it was understood that the tests performed on the products guaranteed their quality for consumers and gave a commercial advantage to the companies that possessed them.
The arrival of the textile chain served to complicate the regulatory framework a little more, since the standard governing its certification was not the same as that of the metal chains, nor were its requirements and results. In short, most of the textile covers were certified as “traction aids” but not as “snow chains” because they did not meet the necessary standards.
Given this situation, and to harmonize norms and standards in the European Union, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) drafted the EN-16662-1 standard to replace all existing national standards so that all certifying bodies in the European Union will be based on this standard for the certification of metal and textile snow chains as of 1 January 2023.
However, we need to clarify that this European harmonization of the standard does not become a legal obligation for citizens in terms of traffic, as there is no European Directive that provides for this, leaving each country with the facility to legislate in this regard.
All this is causing confusion among dealers and customers, artificially fuelled by companies in the sector that have tried to mix a technical issue (a new standard for certification) with a legal one (the obligation to have chains with an updated certificate).
This misinformation has reached such an extent that many customers and dealers think that the chains they have in their cars or in their warehouses are no longer useful, when this is not the case. Legally nothing has changed and they are still perfectly valid and useful, only that they were certified on the basis of a previous standard (even stricter in many aspects than the current ones) and the new chains will be certified under the new EN-1662-1 standard.
Answering questions about the EN 16662-1 standard
What happens if I do not have chains with the new certification?
Absolutely nothing. You may continue to use the chains you have throughout Europe with the old certification, without any time constraint or problem.
Bear in mind that we are not talking about a European directive or mandatory law, it is not a Public Department in Charge of Controlling Traffic (Tráfico) or Interior Ministry issue, but rather a product standard used by certifying companies.
Can I buy chains that are not EN-16662-1 certified?
Of course you can. You can currently find chains on the market that were manufactured before the new standard was published and the previous standards were no longer valid, but this does not mean that they are not valid; rather that the certifications were made in accordance with different requirements, in some cases stricter than those currently in force.
All chains manufactured before 31 December 2022 that have any certification based on standards other than EN 16662-1 can continue to be marketed and used without any problem. Only chains manufactured after 1 January 2023 that are certified must be based on this new standard.
Some enlightening points
We are not talking about a European directive or a law requiring that chains must be certified in accordance with this new standard in order to be used, but rather that a supranational body has decided to regulate the requirements so that the certificate is the same for the whole of Europe. It goes without saying that we have been in the process of adapting all SNOVIT chains to the new certification for quite some time.
There are very few European countries where the law requires chains to be specifically certified, and Spain is not one of them. However, SNOVIT chains have always had the most demanding certifications that guarantee product quality and allow them to be sold and used in all European countries.
Snovit has already taken all necessary measures to update the certifications of its chains in order to be able to continue offering our products with the highest quality standards.