Ford is alerting motorists to the hazards which uncleared snow and ice can cause on cars. Drivers risk their car, driving licence and safety by failing to take simple steps to clear their vehicle windscreen in icy weather.
Ford is urging motorists to ‘warm up for winter’ and properly manage all aspects of car maintenance and preparation for driving in cold and icy conditions as the weather forecast predicts chillier days ahead.
Stuart Southgate, Ford’s automotive safety office director, said: “Being able to clearly see where you are driving is perhaps the most obvious and basic safety requirement for motorists. Failing to take proper care to clear windscreens can have serious consequences not just for drivers, but for pedestrians and other road users too.”
If motorists do not wait for the whole windscreen to clear and instead drive with just a small ‘porthole’ of visibility ahead they can face a driving ban.
An Essex police spokesperson said: “Failing to clear your windscreen of ice or frost constitutes careless driving, and would be punishable with points on your licence and a fine. The exact penalty is dependent on the circumstances and severity of the offence committed, and would be decided in a criminal court.”
Drivers who run the car engine to heat the windscreen but leave the vehicle unattended – known as ‘frosting’ – are committing an offence if the vehicle is left on a public highway*. Although leaving a car running on a private driveway isn’t breaking the law, it is a prime target for opportunistic thieves.
According to insurance company estimates, around 2,000 cars are stolen each year when ‘frosting’, worth around £12.7m. Car insurance is usually invalidated if a policyholder leaves a vehicle with the keys in the ignition.
While frustrated motorists often resort to using tools such as stiletto heels, CD cases, credit cards and finger nails to scrape at stubborn ice, one in 10 confesses to pouring a kettle of boiling water onto the windscreen.
Dave Gidden, product support manager at Autoglass , said: “We don’t advise using hot water. There is a huge difference in the temperature of the hot water people use and the windscreen itself in freezing conditions. This thermal shock may cause severe damage to the windscreen. Glass is very hard but it is not malleable so it doesn’t permit rapid uneven expansion.”
Technology offers a quicker and simpler solution. Ford developed the patented Quickclear system 26 years ago, which uses a mesh of very thin heating wires embedded between two layers of windscreen glass to provide rapid de-icing and de-fogging. The simple push-button system clears windscreens in seconds, instantly freeing frozen wiper blades to reduce stress on the wiper motor