Wacky winter drivers are everywhere — you know, the drivers that fail to clean off the snow and ice from their vehicle before driving. You see them all winter long. They are the drivers that scrap off a small area of an icy windshield, and most often don’t remove any of the snow on the rear window. Even if they clear the front windshield and the rear window, they may forget to clear their headlights and taillights.
Someone sent me a cartoon by Dave Granlund depicting “wacky winter drivers” which I would have included with this article, but it had copyright limitations. However, it inspired me to write about this dangerous practice which we all witness throughout the winter.
Over 90% of the information drivers require to be able to drive safely gets to them through their eyes. If there is snow or ice on the windows, how can a driver see what’s ahead clearly, or what the vehicles that are following him or her are doing? Drivers even get visual feedback from the side windows through their peripheral vision, so they need to be cleared of snow as well.
Since being predictive is important to other drivers, if you don’t clear off all your vehicle’s lights, including brake lights and turn signal lights, how will other drivers know what you intend to do next?
And take note of how many wacky winter drivers fail to remove the snow from the roof of their vehicle. Snow left on a car’s roof can be a hazard to a following vehicle and to the driver of the vehicle that failed to remove it before driving. It blows off the roof, reducing the view of the driver following and collects on the guilty driver’s rear window, limiting the ability to see what’s going on behind the car.
Then there are those drivers that start out hoping that the car’s defroster will clear the windshield before he/she rear-ends someone and relies on the rear window defroster to do the same.
Winter driving takes more time to prepare for the elements. Most of us know what we should do before driving but fail to allow enough time for doing so. Too many drivers just don’t take the proper time to prepare for a safe trip, whether it is just for a few blocks or for many miles.
Another hazard we encounter in winter is the sand and salt on our roads. If we don’t clean off our salt-encrusted headlights we won’t have adequate headlights at night. This can be a real problem. I can remember driving from Montreal back to Malone after a hockey game when the highways in Montreal had so much salt spray that I would often stop after exiting the city to clear the encrusted salt from my headlights.
Like it or not, winter driving is difficult at best, and requires an increased awareness of driving conditions and the necessity to adjust accordingly. Are you a wacky winter driver or a safe winter driver? It’s your choice — make the right one!