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25 November 2010

Danger on the roads as motorists fail to de-ice

As temperatures plummet, research reveals that millions of motorists are ill prepared for hazardous icy conditions.  The poll from leading vehicle glass repair and replacement expert Autoglass has highlighted the inappropriate equipment motorists resort to using to clear their windscreens from snow and ice. 

Over a third of respondents do not keep de-icer or a scraper in their vehicle.  Instead nearly half (45%) of the drivers questioned have used a credit card, four in ten (41%) have used a glove, 38% admitted to clearing the ice with their hands and a third (31%) have used a CD case as a scraper.  One respondent even confessed to using her stiletto heel to clear the windscreen.

A further 13% admit to using hot water to clear the ice, which can result in serious damage to the windscreen.   As the glass goes from extreme cold to hot, thermal shock can cause a chip in the windscreen to turn into a crack which will then need to be replaced. 

The survey also highlighted eight of out ten (83%) motorists drive without fully clearing their windscreens of ice, leaving them with limited sight and facing a potential fine of £1,000. 

Two thirds of those quizzed say they have driven with ‘porthole vision’ because they were in a hurry.  A further 28% thought they could see well enough by simply clearing the windscreen area on the driver’s side.  Women were the worst offenders in the poll with more than seven out of 10 admitting to driving without a clear view of the road ahead.  Over 70% did not realise that driving with obscured vision could lead to a fine.

And with as many as one in ten accidents on the UK’s roads caused by impaired vision , Autoglass is calling on drivers to ensure their vehicle is safe and their view unobstructed before hitting the road.

Matthew Mycock, managing director at Autoglass, says: “As the UK prepares to be gripped by winter weather, drivers must think ahead and plan an extra 10 minutes onto their journey so they can check their vehicle and completely clear the snow and ice from their windscreen, rear windscreen, side glass and mirrors before setting off." 

“Driving with an impaired vision of the road is extremely dangerous, particularly in icy conditions where stopping distances increase by up to 10 times.  By ensuring they have a clear view of the road and other vehicles, drivers can better respond to hazards and avoid accidents.”

Autoglass has compiled a quick reference list of essential safety checks to help drivers stay safe on winter roads:
1. Before setting off, check the local and national weather forecasts.  If the conditions are dangerous and your journey is not absolutely essential, stay at home.

2. Clear your windows and mirrors of all snow and ice before you set out using a good scraper or de-icer.  Do not use hot water as this can cause serious damage to the glass.  Also ensure your windscreen is fully demisted and any snow is cleared from the roof.

3. Assess all car lights and headlamps.  Each front and rear light should be free from damage or cracks.  Keep your lights clean, not only for your vision but so that other road users can see you too.

4. Check front and rear wiper blades for wear and splitting.  Also check windscreen washer bottle levels and ensure the correct level of anti-freeze has been added to prevent the water from freezing.

5. Ensure the windscreen is free of chips and cracks and that your heated rear window is working.

6. Allow extra time for your journey and remember to keep the fuel tank full.  Your vehicle will use more fuel than you think in bad road conditions.

7. When out on the roads, use dipped headlights and reduce your speed – it can take 10 times longer to stop on an icy road.  Leave more room between you and the driver in front.

8. Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin.

9. Always take a warm coat or blanket in the boot in case of breakdown.

10. Don’t leave your car running unattended.  Many people leave their cars running on their driveways to demist the screen while they stay inside in the warmth.  This is an open invitation for opportunist thieves to strike.

 

 

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