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One in three motorists drive with misty or icy windscreens

Published 16 January 2020

A third of drivers are risking their safety, as well as that of other road users, by driving with their windscreen iced or misted up in wintry conditions, according to new research.

A survey of 2000 motorists by Halfords found that 35 per cent admitted to driving off with their windscreen either misted up or still covered in ice over the past 12 months - an offence punishable by a £60 fine and three penalty points.

>> Top 10: Winter driving essentials

One quarter of those polled said that they had put their car at risk of theft by leaving the engine running and popping back inside while the windscreen clears. Stationary idling is also an offence under section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Around 16 per cent have reversed their car despite having zero rear visibility while 14 per cent have risked mechanical damage by over-revving a cold engine.

It also emerged that more than a fifth risked cracking the windscreen by de-icing it with hot water, while a quarter have driven with snow on the roof, which could potentially cover the windscreen when braking.

More than a quarter of the motorists polled have not carried out basic checks on their car over the past month because of the bad weather. Worryingly, 55 per cent haven't looked at their tyre tread or inflation over the past month.

The survey follows a Freedom of Information request which revealed police handed out more than 70,000 vehicle defect notices between 2016 and 2019. The Vehicle Defect Rectification Scheme is used by police to deal with minor maintenance issues with cars, such as blown bulbs, worn tyres or broken wiper blades. Motorists issued with defect notices must get the issue fixed within 14 days and show proof to the police.

The survey also showed how many motorists aren't keeping many key items in their car in the event of a winter driving emergency. Just 27 per cent store a blanket in their car and 33 per cent keep a torch. Only 35 per cent have a first aid kit, while 36 per cent have a mobile phone charger.


hissingsid    on 16 January 2020

I live in a close of 17 properties, all with garages and 7 of them with double garages, yet only 3 owners including myself use their garages for their intended purpose.

If more people cleared their garages of bikes, lawnmowers, barbecues, garden furniture etc. and put their cars inside overnight, the early morning winter commute would be safer. The place for these other items is the shed.

DeadBat    on 17 January 2020

Although I agree with what you say I believe having or not having a garage have nothing to do with this issue. It's pure laziness. Regardless if you have/use garage or not it only take 1-2min to get your car de-iced and ready for the road. It's not hard to check the tyre pressure when you at the petrol station, but that of course require a little bit of effort that for some may be too much.

Prince William    on 18 January 2020

Sorted I bought a car with a heated windscreen.

   on 19 January 2020

Takes me less than 5 minutes to warm up the car & to demist the windows too.

Marcus T.    on 22 January 2020

Neither my wife's, or my car will fit in our garage.Anyway, my garage is my workshop and my tools are worth more than our cars. Modern diesels we have take forever to warm up.

Edited by Marcus T. on 22/01/2020 at 10:31

Vivien Barber    on 23 January 2020

Modern garages seem designed for 1960s cars! Our garage was built for us, and would take 2 cars [and the tools] but one Triumph TR4 lives in it, and occasionally my partner's soft-top sports car does too. But mine doesn't, ever - presently a nearly 11 year-old Audi, which doesn't seem to mind the north side cold - but I do. I cover the screen and front window, and door shuts, with a net curtain from a charity shop, which works perfectly.

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