With freezing weather gripping the Northwest this week, drivers should know that scraping a narrow peephole on an icy windshield is not enough – not enough for safety, and not enough to avoid a ticket.
In a 2013 PEMCO Poll, we learned that one in five local drivers don’t always finish scraping their windshields clear of ice or snow. Washington and Oregon laws state that windshields must be kept free of any non-transparent material, which includes frost, ice, and snow.
Scraping just enough to see straight ahead is dangerous. Your field of view isn’t broad enough to react to cars or pedestrians coming from other angles.
Just last year, we noted a sad story about a woman who died in Bellevue when struck by a car with inadequately defrosted windows. The driver never saw her.
Follow these tips to ensure an unobstructed view in cold weather.
Give yourself extra time. Resist the urge to start and go, and give your car a few minutes for the defroster to warm up.
Don’t drive until you’re all clear. Defrost quickly by turning on the air conditioner (to dehumidify) and blast the defroster on a warm setting. Also, rolling down your windows to bring in cooler air will lower the temperature and reduce fog – this helps if your windows get foggy while driving.
Turn off the inside-air feature. This setting recycles passengers’ body heat, breath, and humidity from damp clothes. You need fresh, dry air from outside to replace the humid air that’s fogging up the glass. Also, be sure to turn on your rear defroster and side window defrosters if you have them.
Learn some tricks to beat frost. If you consistently run late and your car is parked outside, cover your windshield with a towel at night (tucked under the wipers), or try applying a de-icing product. Securing plastic bags with rubber bands to your side-view mirrors leaves them frost-free in the morning.
Hands off the interior windows! Try not to use your hands or gloves to wipe away fog unless it’s an emergency. Oils and dirt smear the glass, and the only way to get rid of the streaks is with a proper cleaning.