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    • Drivers warned to give hot water the cold shoulder in the morning de-icing rush

2 February 2009

Drivers warned to give hot water the cold shoulder in the morning de-icing rush

With Britain in the grip of a big freeze, Autoglass is reporting high volumes of cracked windscreens requiring replacement. The firm has been steadily busy as overnight temperatures plummet and motorists rush to de-ice their cars in the morning.

According to research by the company, more than one in 10 drivers (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, meaning the windscreen will need to be replaced.

The advice from Autoglass is to use a good de-icer and scraper to ensure the windscreen, rear screen and side windows are all completely clear from frost and ice before setting off.

This may seem like common sense, but the Autoglass survey of 1,000 reveals that over a third of drivers do not keep de-icer or a scraper in their vehicle. Instead, it seems motorists will use almost anything to clear their screen. Nearly half (45%) of the drivers questioned have used a credit card, four in 10 (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.

The firm has also found that millions of motorists will risk their safety as eight of out 10 (83%) admit to driving without fully clearing their windscreens of ice, leaving them with dangerously limited sight and 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.

Nigel Doggett, managing director at Autoglass, says: “Getting out of the house and into the car to drive to work or take the kids to school is often a frantic rush. But as the country is gripped by winter weather, drivers must think ahead and plan an extra 10 minutes onto their journey so they can completely clear the ice from their windscreen, rear windscreen, side glass and mirrors before setting off.

“Scraping ice off a car is not the most pleasant task in the world, but it is absolutely vital that drivers take the time to do it properly. 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.”

It’s not just frost and ice which can cause visibility problems during winter and Autoglass is also advising motorists to ensure their wiper blades are working effectively. Salt from gritted roads, when mixed with surface water from rain, produces a white spray which smears the windscreen. With worn wiper blades and a lack of screen wash, it is difficult to wash away this spray, leaving an opaque residue on the screen. Some 86% of the drivers polled by Autoglass admitted to driving without screen wash.

Nigel Doggett concludes: “Our advice to motorists is simple – before leaving the house, make sure your vehicle is safe to drive. Always keep a good scraper and de-icer spray in your car during the winter months, check your wipers are in good condition and ensure you have a good supply of screen wash to combat road spray by checking levels regularly. By following these simple tips, drivers can stay safe on the roads this winter.”

Autoglass offers free windscreen vision safety checks at its branches located across the UK. The service includes checking the windscreen for chips and assessing the condition of wipers. If the wipers are in need of replacement, Autoglass can supply the new blades, which will be fitted free by an expert technician.

Autoglass is committed to campaigns that help raise awareness for motorists about the importance of driving safely. The UK’s leading vehicle glass repair and replacement service, Autoglass has 109 branches nationwide and 1,200 mobile service units. For details of your nearest centre call 0800 36 36 36 or visit

Top Tips for Safe Driving in Hazardous Conditions
To ensure drivers stay safe on the roads throughout the winter, Autoglass has compiled a quick reference list of essential safety checks:
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 ice before you set out using a good scraper or de-icer – also ensure your windscreen is fully demisted and any snow is cleared from the roof
3. Check 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 motorists 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. Check the windscreen is free of chips and cracks and ensure 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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