The necessity of de-icing your vehicle during Northern Ireland’s winter months
4 minute read
Icy mornings are not uncommon in Northern Ireland
Each year, as winter’s chill embraces Northern Ireland, the familiar sight of frost-covered vehicles becomes a daily occurrence. While this icy sheen may appear innocuous, it harbours significant risks for motorists and pedestrians alike. This article delves into the criticality of de-icing your vehicle, a task often overlooked in the haste of morning routines but essential for safe travel.
The hidden dangers of frost
Frost on your vehicle’s windows can greatly reduce your ability to see clearly, making driving hazardous. This lack of visibility makes it difficult to spot other vehicles, pedestrians and road signs, increasing the risk of accidents.
Your legal obligations in Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland, driving without clear visibility through all your windows is not just dangerous; it could be illegal.
The Official Highway Code for Northern Ireland states that before you set off:
- you MUST be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from your windows.
- you MUST ensure that lights are clean and number plates are clearly visible and legible.
Non-compliance not only endangers lives but also risks legal repercussions, including fines and penalty points.
Practical steps for effective de-icing of your car
De-icing your vehicle is essential for safe winter driving. Here are five easy-to-follow steps to ensure you do it effectively and safely.
Prepare in advance
Keep a scraper and de-icer spray in your vehicle to be ready for icy mornings. You may also want to keep a pair of heavy gloves with your de-icing kit.
Start your engine
Use your car’s heater to help melt the ice, but remember to stay with your vehicle.
You should avoid leaving your vehicle running whilst unattended. Your insurance company is unlikely to pay out if the vehicle is stolen when the keys are in the ignition.
When the car heater has melted some of the ice, carefully remove frost using the scraper, taking care not to scratch the glass. Do not use boiling water as it can crack your windscreen.
Check all views
Ensure clear visibility through all windows and mirrors, not just the windshield, keeping in mind what the Highway Code says.
Allocate extra time for your journey
Set aside extra time in your routine for thorough de-icing during frosty weather.
Driving in snowy or icy conditions carries additional risk
You can do more to mitigate the risk that goes beyond a thoroughly de-iced vehicle. Read our six tips for winter driving in Northern Ireland to learn more.
Speak with a road traffic accident solicitor if you are involved in an ice-related accident
Icy weather increases the likelihood of becoming involved in a collision. Unfortunately, some motorists fail to take as much care as they should to reduce risks. For example, they fail to de-ice their vehicle and/or reduce their speed to compensate for icy roads.