Drivers are being urged to make sure their cars are properly prepared before heading off in low temperatures or risk massive fines.
As Storm Barra brings the threat of heavy snow and ice, motorists could end up in trouble with the law and facing fines of between £60 to £2,500 and penalty points if they don’t make sure their car is safe to use.
The most obvious offence on cold days is failing to clear your car’s windows of snow or ice properly. Only clearing a small patch - known as portholing - or clearing just the windscreen is not only monumentally dangerous, it’s also illegal, so follow our guide on how to quickly and effectively de-ice your car.
Rule 229 of the Highway Code states: “Before you set off you MUST be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from all your windows.” And the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) regulations state: “All glass or other transparent material fitted to a motor vehicle shall be maintained in such condition that it does not obscure the vision of the driver while the vehicle is being driven on a road.”
That means you need to clear any condensation from the inside of the glass as well as snow and ice from the outside.
If you are caught driving without a “full view of the road and traffic ahead” you can be fined up to £1,000 and given three penalty points, although the fine is more likely to be a £60 fixed penalty notice. However, if the police think your behaviour constitutes driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition, the fine can rise to as much as £2,500.
Halfords’ motoring director, Richard Bruce commented: “To maximise visibility when driving in more difficult conditions, make sure windscreens are completely clear. As well as being unsafe, failure to do so can also result in a fine of up to £1000, disqualification, and three points on drivers’ licences.”
It’s not just your glass you need to clear, either. Driving with an obscured number plate can attract a fine of £1,000 and leaving snow on your car when you pull away can also land you in trouble.
If loose snow falls off your vehicle and obstructs another driver, you could face a charge of careless or inconsiderate driving. This carries a minimum of three points and an unlimited fine, so it’s worth taking the extra couple of minutes to properly clear your car before setting off.
There is also the possibility of facing a fine even before you set off. Leaving an unattended car idling on a public road is an offence that can bring a fine of up to £40, as well as leaving an easy target for opportunistic thieves.