After Storm Ciara’s recent battering of the UK and with Storm Dennis predicted to continue the onslaught this week many drivers are waking up to find their cars covered in snow and ice.
In the rush to get out of the cold and on your way it might be tempting to fire up your car then head back inside, or clear the bare minimum of glass so you can see out.
But both leaving your car unattended and failing to properly clear it of snow and ice can carry fines of anywhere between £20 and £2,500 as well as see you hit with penalty points.
Especially in the current weather it’s tempting to start your car’s engine then nip back into the house while it warms up. However, if you’re parked on a public road you could be fined for contravening the Road Traffic Act rules on stationary idling. These enforces rule 123 of the Highway Code, which states “You must not leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running or leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road”.
Doing so could land you a £20 fine. Alternatively, police could also fine you for the offence of “quitting” where you leave a car’s engine running while you’re not in it, essentially meaning you are not in control of the vehicle. This offence carries a £30 fixed penalty notice.
As well as the potential fines, leaving your car running and unattended also puts your car at risk of being snatched by opportunistic thieves. And if your vehicle is stolen under these circumstances your insurer is unlikely to pay out.
Even if you park on a driveway or stick with you car as it defrosts you could still be fined if you don’t clear the whole thing.
Rushing to get on the road and failing to properly clear your screen is not only dangerous but it’s also illegal. Only clearing a patch of the windscreen rather than the whole glass can be counted as “not having a full view of the road ahead” which attracts a fine of up to £1,000 and three points. However, it could also be seen as using an “unsuitable vehicle in a dangerous condition”, an offence that carries a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points.
And the Highway Code says that you must be able to see out of every glass panel in your vehicle, so make sure you clear all the windows.
Driving off with a layer of snow on your car’s roof could also land you in trouble with the law. Snow shifting and falling off your car not only affects your own view out but can affect other cars and drivers as well, leading to a charge of driving without due consideration or, more seriously, using a vehicle in a dangerous condition.
And even once you’ve cleared the windows, lights and panels, you’ll want to make sure your licence plate is also free from snow, ice or any other muck that makes it hard to read.
The law requires all cars to display number plates and you can be fined £1,000 for driving a car with osbscured or illegible number plates.