I can see clearly now the ice has gone

Article date: 17 December 2007

  • Motorists driving with ‘porthole vision' this winter risking lives and licences

A new study today reveals that nearly half* of UK motorists are gambling with their lives and driving licences, by not bothering to fully clear ice off wintry windscreens. When a cold snap hits, lazy Brits tend to value convenience over safety and head off in the morning with ‘porthole vision' after only scraping a small circle of ice from their windscreen.

The research, commissioned by RAC Auto Windscreens, reveals that almost a million** motorists admit that they have been in an accident and an additional 600,000*** have not seen a pedestrian cross the road, because their vision was impaired in this way.

Despite dicing with death, Brits are so laidback they only spend an average seven minutes clearing their windscreens on a winter's morning - that's half as long as they take fixing their hair and having breakfast. And only four out of ten realise that they could be hit with three points on their licence and a massive £1,000 fine for being so lax about scraping off the ice.

The research also found that of those motorists who do take the time to de-ice their car, many will risk damage to their windscreen, or even theft of their vehicle, by using foolhardy methods to clear it:

  • Almost half of Brits help out car thieves by leaving the engine running to defrost their vehicle while they stay inside the house
  • A quarter of men, and a third of women, have poured boiling water on their windscreen, running the risk of cracks in the glass and expensive repairs
  • One in seven motorists in the UK, and just under a third of Londoners, have raided their kitchens for implement like knives to scrape off the ice
  • More than a tenth of mad-cap Brits, and a fifth of Welsh motorists, have used a CD or DVD to de-ice a windscreen
  • One respondent to the survey even admitted to making do with a potato!

Chris Bonsall, technical manager at RAC Auto Windscreens comments that: "At this time of the year we see a significant rise in call outs to fix cracked windscreens that have been carelessly damaged by motorists' lack of care. I can't believe that so many British motorists will drive off and risk getting points on their licence, or even being involved in an accident, rather than spend ten minutes to clear their windscreen."

"We would recommend taking around ten minutes to clear windscreens thoroughly using a scraper and, or, a de-icer. It's not worth driving off until the windscreen is fully clear as you can't drive safely".

To help motorists stay safe on the roads this winter, RAC Auto Windscreens has put together some top tips:

  • Before setting out on a journey, use a windscreen scraper or a de-icer to remove all ice from your vehicle
  • Do not use warm water from a kettle to clear your windscreen, as resulting problems may include a cracked windscreen
  • Carry a key de-icer with you to clear your lock
  • Do not drive with a small hole cut through the ice on your  windscreen. The Highway Code states that it is illegal to drive with poor visibility
  • Check front and rear wiper blades for wear or splitting. Check windscreen washers making sure that they are adjusted correctly
  • Screen wash additive should be added to prevent freezing in winter.


RAC Press office contact:
Vicki Burn at RAC Press Office on 01603 684224/07800 692909 or Sonia Clarke on 0207 908 6570/07886 445320 or Jen Hardisty on 0207 908 6465/07968 746977

Notes to editors:

Research conducted by Tickbox on behalf of RAC Auto Windscreens. Tickbox surveyed 1,080 motorists between 15 and 20 November 2007.

* 41.1% of motorists do not always wait for all of their windscreens and side windows to be fully defrosted before driving off in the morning

** 2.6% of motorists admit to having been in an accident because they haven't fully cleared their windscreen. 2.6% of 35,000,000 licenced motorists is 910,000

*** 1.9% of motorists admit to having not seen a pedestrian cross the road because they haven't fully cleared their windscreen. 1.9% of 35m is 665,000

About RAC
With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organizations, providing services for both private and business motorists.  Whether it's roadside assistance, windscreen repair and replacement, learning to drive, vehicle inspections and checks, legal and financial services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists' needs. RAC incorporates BSM, RAC Auto Windscreens, RAC Direct Insurance and HPI.

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

RAC's news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at http://www.racnews.co.uk.

Back to top