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Is it Illegal to Drive with Snow on Your Car?

snow on a car

It’s early in the morning, you’re late for work. Stood in front of your car you notice it’s covered in snow and ice. You could give it a quick scrape with your bank card and drive away, but should you?

The bottom line is no, you need a clear view of the road before setting off which means a thorough de-icing. Not only is it safer for everyone, it’s the law.

Clear the snow before you go. That’s the motto you need to adopt throughout winter.

Read on and discover what the law says about snow and ice, your responsibilities and the myriad ways in which it’s possible to be penalised because of an icy vehicle.

You’ll soon agree, taking 5 minutes to clear your windscreen is worth it.

What the law says

There isn’t a single line in the highway code saying it’s illegal to drive with snow on your vehicle. However, rule 229 states that you must be able to see out of all glass panels before making your journey.

This is underscored by section 41D of the Road Traffic Act 1988, which repeats you ‘must have a clear view of the road before setting off.’

Failure to adhere to this rule can incur a fine if the police see you but, more importantly, this type of behaviour has placed lives in danger in the past and continues to do so every winter.

Overall, these rules mean you should remove all snow and ice from the windscreen, side windows and rear window – and also demist the inside of the windscreen.

This is easily done by applying liquid de-icer to the windscreen, using a scraper where necessary and blasting cold air onto the interior of the windscreen while your engine heats up. Turn up the temperature slowly and this will demist the screen quicker.

Lights, mirrors and registration plates

It is also your responsibility to clear snow and ice from the registration plate so the car can be identified by the police and speed cameras. Any obfuscation of the plates can be considered evasion.

For safety purposes, check your mirrors and lights as these are imperative to safety. You can’t drive safely without mirrors and other motorists are impeded from driving safely if they can’t see you due to lights which are iced over.

What about snow on the roof?

Sometimes, you’ll find the roads are navigable but there has been enough snow in the night to leave a snow drift on the roof of your vehicle.

Again, there’s no law stating you must remove it. But there are many documented cases of snow sliding from the roof onto the windscreen and causing a crash. Similarly, at high speeds snow on the roof can become dislodged.

When snow is dislodged at high speed the weight and velocity of the snow turns it into a destructive projectile. Again, many cases have been caught on dashcams where slabs of snow have worked free of a car roof only to land on the windscreen of a vehicle behind. Whenever this has happen the windscreen has instantly been destroyed.

Thanks to laminated glass, the windscreen stays in one piece but becomes shattered within, meaning the smashed glass is impossible to see out of. Obviously, this is a severe incident and could cause a very dangerous situation, not to mention expensive damage.

Because these two scenarios are common occurrences, they fall under the ‘driving without due consideration’ part of the highway code and you can be penalised with points on your licence.

Tyres Northampton supply, fit and check tyres for every make and model of vehicle. If you are unsure about any aspect of tyre safety and would like a professional tyre fitter to check your tyres for wear and tear, be sure to contact us today. We’re the premier tyre centre for customers in Corby, Milton Keynes, Rugby and the surrounding areas. We’re always happy to help keep you safe on the roads.

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