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Is it illegal to drive with snow on your car?

21 Dec 2012 at 11:21

You’re late for festive engagement with friends over the Christmas break, or just need to pop to the shops in the car – but it’s covered in snow and ice.

You can’t make any shortcuts, though: in the eyes of the law, you need to clear that snow before you go.

Even if you’re only making a two-minute journey, by not thoroughly cleaning your car of and precipitation or condensation – including all windows, lights and even anything that could fall off into the path of another motorists – you’re breaking the law and leaving yourself liable to a run in with the police.

The Highway Code stipulates that if driving in adverse weather conditions you must, by law, be able to see out of every glass panel in your vehicle.

That means fully wiping snow or frost from every window (a quick once over with a credit card or CD case is not good enough!). Use a proper scraper and de-icer. It might cost a few pounds, but it works and will save you time.

It’ll also reduce your risk of having a crash. Poor visibility through un-cleared windows could mean you miss that car as you pull onto a main road. If your insurance company finds you were at fault through neglecting to properly prepare your vehicle, they could potentially withhold a pay-out.

It’s the law that all lights and number plates are clearly visible too. In the murky grey light that often comes with winter conditions it’s advisable to drive with your sidelights or dipped headlamps on so as other drivers can see you.

Without this they might miss you as they pull out of a side road, leading to the same consequences as above.

For the same reasons it’s imperative that all your mirrors are clear and demisted along with your vehicle’s glass area – don’t be tempted to drive off before your vision is 100%.

Finally, don’t forget to remove snow from bonnets, bumpers and the roof – you have a responsibility to ensure nothing falls off your car and into the path of other road users, potentially causing damage to their vehicles.

If you don’t adhere these rules you could leave yourself open to a £60 fine and three penalty points on your licence, at worst under the offences of careless or inconsiderate driving. Not the Christmas present you might have been looking for.

For more information on how to prepare your car for driving over the Christmas break or in dubious weather, read our Winter Driving tips.