British motorists risk safety and costly damage to cars by winter windscreen faux pas

Article date: 8 December 2006

  • Impatience and lack of knowledge causing dangerous drivingconditions

New research1 shows that Britishmotorists are risking their personal safety and causing costlydamage to their vehicles by failing to take the correct measures toclear their car windscreens of frost and ice before setting off ona journey.

The research by RAC Auto Windscreens reveals that 42% of driversconfess that impatience means they regularly set off on a journeywithout having defrosted their windscreens thoroughly.

The survey also reveals that icy windscreens are playing havoc withmorning schedules causing over a quarter (26%) of commuters delaysof up to 20 minutes on their car journeys to work eachmorning.

Many motorists mistakenly use methods that can result in crackedwindscreens and broken wipers:

  • Nearly a third (29%) of drivers pour hot water on to thewindscreen to de-ice it
  • Over a quarter (27%) of motorists have used a credit card toscrape ice off the windscreen
  • 43% of car-owners have used their wipers to remove ice or snowfrom the windscreen.

Furthermore, with as many as 54% of motoristsadmitting to leaving their engines running in the driveway in orderto speed up defrosting of their windscreens, the possibility oftheft is also cause for concern – not to mention theenvironmental impact.

RAC Auto Windscreens is urging motorists to be properly preparedfor the approaching cold snap by highlighting the dangers ofdriving without clear vision and the risks motorists are taking inbeing penalised. According to the survey, 39% of people are unawarethat driving with "porthole" vision can result in a fine of £1000and driving licence penalty points. More worrying still is the factthat as many as one in ten accidents on the UK’s roads arecaused by vision impairment2, which can result from iceand snow on the windscreen.

John Tutt, RAC Auto Windscreens operations director, says:“Our research shows that many motorists are taking inadequateand potentially dangerous measures to de-frost their windscreensduring the winter months. The most common mistakes to make aretrying to clear ice with credit cards or windscreen wipers whichcan scratch the glass or pouring hot water which can causecracking. It’s important that drivers take the extra time toprepare their cars for winter conditions safely and ensure thattheir windscreens are free of ice and frost before setting off on ajourney.”

RAC Auto Windscreens winter motoring tips:

  1. Before setting out on a journey, use a windscreen scraper or ade-icer to remove ice from your vehicle - do not use warm waterfrom a kettle, as resulting problems may include a crackedwindscreen 
  2. Carry a key de-icer with you to clear your lock
  3. Do not drive with a small hole cut through the ice on yourwindscreen. The Highway Code states that it is illegalto drive with poor visibility 
  4. Ensure all windows and mirrors are completely demisted andtotally cleared of ice using a can of de-icer and a windscreenscraper
  5. Check front and rear wiper blades for wear or splitting. Checkwindscreen washers making sure that they are adjusted correctly.Screen wash additive should be added to prevent freezing inwinter.

Motorists can find out more information on winter driving at theRAC Know How section at


1. Research carried out with over 1000 motorists,Tickbox, November 2006
2. DfT Road Casualties in Great Britain Annual Report2005-published 28 September 2006

RAC Press office contact:
Telephone: 01603 684916 

Jasmine Agbulos
Telephone: 020 7908 6402 

Sonia Clarke
Telephone: 020 7908 6570 

Notes to editors:

About RAC Auto Windscreens
RAC AutoWindscreens provides a wholly owned and operated completeautomotive glazing repair and replacement service (windscreens,rear windows and side windows) through the largest fitting centrenetwork in the UK.

It is the only replacement windscreen specialist with its ownmanufacturing operation, producing 250,000 windscreens a year in adedicated factory in Chesterfield.

Backed by a fleet of 1000 fully equipped fitting units, RAC AutoWindscreens provides a true 24/7 national service for more than850,000 private and corporate customers every year. For moreinformation on RAC Auto Windscreens

About RAC
With around seven million members, RAC is one ofthe UK's most progressive motoring organizations, providingservices for both private and business motorists. Whether it'sroadside assistance, windscreen repair and replacement, learning todrive, vehicle inspections and checks, legal and financial servicesor up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able tomeet motorists’ needs. RAC incorporates BSM, RAC AutoWindscreens, RAC Direct Insurance and HPI.

Aviva bought RAC in May 2005. The acquisition brings together RAC'spowerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leadingposition in motor insurance of Norwich Union Insurance (part ofAviva). Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer, insuring one inseven motor vehicles and with a market share of around 15%.

RAC’s news releases and a selection of images are availablefrom the internet press centre at

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