As annoying as it is to clear a windshield from ice – there’s no way around it. If you settle with clearing only a little peephole and then hitting the road, you are endangering yourself and other road users with your restricted view. It could even result in criminal charges and reduced benefits from your insurance.
Peephole drivers keep police busy in the winter months. If you park your car outside overnight, you may often find an ice- or snow-covered vehicle in the morning, especially with the current icy temperatures. Turn up the windshield heater, scrape off the ice and remove the snow – getting your car ready for the road can be a nuisance. But drivers who hit the road with a restricted view risk not only their own safety and the safety of other road users, but also legal consequences and, under certain circumstances, recourse from their insurance.
To make sure that scraping ice in the morning isn’t an ordeal, Mike Pfäffli, Head of Accident Research and Prevention at AXA, advises covering the windshield with an aluminum mat or wool blanket in the evening and always keeping an ice scraper and snow brush handy. If you keep warm gloves in the car, you will freeze less, even if it takes longer than planned to scrape the windshield. In addition to the windshield, the rear-view mirrors and tail lights must also be clear of ice and snow – the same applies to the roof of the vehicle. “Snow flying off could disturb the traffic behind you or even restrict your view if the snow slides forward onto the windshield when you hit the brakes,” explains the accident researcher.
Drivers who inadequately clear ice or snow from their windshield must expect to receive a fine from the police: “Driving with an ice- or snow-covered windshield is not permitted,” says Cyril Senn, a legal expert at AXA-ARAG. In general, vehicles on the road must be safe to operate. “The windshield of a car must therefore be free and clear and the driver must have a free 180-degree view ahead. If the vehicle’s roof is covered with ice or snow which could be blown down by the air stream, the vehicle is not deemed safe to operate,” according to the legal expert.
Varying penalties are possible depending on the severity of the offense, says Cyril Senn: “In the case of peephole drivers, a gross violation of traffic laws with an entry in the criminal record and at least a three-month revocation of your license is absolutely justified. If the windshield is only partly covered with ice, the driver can expect a fine without an entry in the criminal record and a shorter revocation period.”
Incidentally, a fogged-up windshield also falls under these regulations. If the windshield is fogged up when you set off, you must immediately stop the car and wait until the heater takes effect.