Would you drive with your eyes closed? Of course you wouldn’t, that’d be silly. But many admit to driving partially blind first thing in the morning or at night when it’s frosty. Often they will travel more than a mile before they can see clearly.
Over 80% of car owners admit they set off while their windows are still frosted to save a couple of minutes on a journey, a survey for Halfords found.
Most motorists (81%) say they wait for less than a minute with the car heater on full blast and then drive away with a limited sight of the road ahead. The most efficient heaters take at least three minutes before overnight frost is melted and a windscreen is cleared, says car accessories retailer Halfords.
Almost half (47%) admit to driving with “porthole vision”, when only a small part of the windscreen is cleared. A further 25% said they only cleared the driver’s side. 62% said they drove off without clearing the rear window.
Halfords Winter Driving Expert Mark Dolphin said, “Motorists must make sure car windows, side mirrors and headlights are properly cleared of frost before setting off. Side and back windows are as important as the windscreen because drivers need all-round vision to drive safely. This takes a little time and the use of a decent de-icer spray.”
Air frost occurs on an average of 51 nights a year, meaning motorists can drive blind for a total of over 100 minutes or 50 miles during the winter.
Insurance claims show as many as a third of accidents occur within one mile of the home. One in ten accidents on the UK roads are caused by impaired vision.
Police warn that drivers with windscreens obscured by frost could face a £1000 fine and risk causing an accident. PC Steve Rounds, of the Central Motorway Police Group said: “This is extremely foolish and dangerous. The law states windows must not be obscured in any way. Drivers must ensure they have a clear view of the road and other vehicles.”
When it comes to clearing off frost, nearly a third of drivers (31 %) do not keep de-icer or a scraper in their vehicles. Instead, almost half (47%) use a credit card, 42% use their bare hands or a glove and 28% have used a CD case to scrape away the ice. 10% said they use a stiff brush, 8% a kitchen spatula or fish slice, while two of those questioned confessed to taking the sole of a shoe to the windscreen.
Some 13% admit to using hot water to clear the ice, which can cause the windscreen to crack.