How much should you clear off?
I know we’re in a hurry these days, or so it seems. We tend to exaggerate how long things will take us to complete so we cut corners and take chances. The reality is that these chances can affect us and those around us more than we may think. This is certain when it comes to driving.
Clearing the snow and ice from your vehicle is a constant thing we must do as a driver, but we see many drivers cutting the corner and clearing off enough to be able to see out of the windshield. What happened to being able to see around your vehicle? Wouldn’t you want to know if another vehicle is close behind you when you needed to stop so you could adjust your braking pressure? What about being able to see to the sides of your vehicle prior to making a lane change?
Don’t get me wrong, there are many drivers who clear off each window and both outside mirrors so they have the visibility they need to operate their vehicle safely in traffic. What about clearing off your headlights, tail lights and turn signals too? How can other drivers know your intentions if your exterior lights are covered in snow or ice? If you’re going to clear off each window and mirror, why not add the lights as well?
Now to the thing that most drivers forget, don’t think about or could care less about – clearing off the top of your vehicle. Snow and ice on the top of the vehicle can affect both the driver and other drivers near you. Braking hard can cause that snow/ice to fall forward onto your windshield stopping you from seeing ahead of you. Clear off all the snow from the top of your vehicle prior to leaving for your destination.
If the ice has frozen to the roof of your vehicle and can’t be removed, check it again each half hour or so. The heat from the interior can loosen that ice and can be removed more easily at that time. If you forget to do that, the ice can blow off the top of your vehicle and land against the vehicle behind you and cause possible injury to that driver. Also remember when the sun is out or if temperature increases, the ice on your roof can loosen and fly off.
That’s exactly what happened in these two following photos. The driver of this minivan was following a vehicle on the freeway when ice blew off the top of that vehicle and went through their windshield. Luckily, the driver was focused enough to what was happening that they reduce speed and safely exited the freeway. His passenger was able to hold the remaining portion of the windshield away from the driver so he could do just that. If you don’t think the ice on top of your vehicle could affect anyone, think again.
The tricky part with this incident was that the ice was on the top of a transport truck. Drivers of those trucks aren’t able to climb on top of the trailer and remove the ice. There’s no heat from the trailer to melt the under layer of ice, so what can we do? Could this incident have been avoided? That’s hard to say. I’m just glad the driver of the minivan is okay, with only minor cuts and bruises to their face. And, he did a very good job to keep his vehicle under control until he was able to pull over. Not all drivers have that composure.
One of the things that will help us respond to emergencies is time. Time to see, time to think and time to respond. Would a larger following distance behind transport trucks help us in case this happens to us? Would driving in a different lane than the transport truck help us? Would staying ahead of the transport truck help us?
These are all “what ifs” that we have to consider. In the meantime, clear off the top of your vehicle before it’s too late. Before your “being in a hurry” affects someone else and causes injury…or worse.