Monday Rant: Clear the Snow Off Your Entire Car!

The first snowfall of the season inevitably showcases all kinds of poor and inept behaviour. Catching motorists off-guard, even the slightest winter precipitation creates havoc. Outfitted with summer or "all-season" tires, cars and SUVs can be seen sliding through intersections, getting stuck on the gentlest grades, blocking streets, creating unnecessary gridlock, and infuriating fellow motorists.  

Unfortunately, some of this poor behaviour continues all winter. What truly separates the merely ill-prepared from the lazy and ignorant, is those who fail to clear snow from their vehicle. Not only is it curious and mystifying, it is also downright dangerous to everyone on the road.

A recent video uploaded to YouTube by Toronto motorist Gavin Gerbz showed a bewildering scene where a driver is recorded using a snow brush to clear snow from her windshield while driving on the 401 Expressway near Keele St. Many commenters chimed in to give her the benefit of the doubt, suggesting that perhaps the snow came from a transport truck, the more likely scenario is that it slid down from her own roof while braking which could easily have been avoided.

My first question was, "Why not use the windshield wipers to clear the snow?" This lack of visibility while piloting a motor vehicle inhibits the driver’s ability to see other vehicles, poles, pedestrians, or cyclists. My second question was, "Wouldn't it be safer to do that on the side of the road rather than the middle of the highway?"

For those guilty of hopping behind the wheel and setting off with a single sweep of the windshield wipers, it must be akin to walking around with a paper bag on their head. I don’t know about you, but I was taught to drive utilizing mirrors and windows to view my surroundings and not just directly in front of me. Otherwise, why have them?

Failing to remove snow from windows makes it impossible for you to see others. Leaving snow on headlights and tail lights means others won't be able to see you. Visibility in winter can be challenging enough, why make it worse?

Over the years, I have heard a number of curious excuses as to why people didn’t deem it necessary to clear snow from their vehicle before setting out on the roadway. None of which hold any water (frozen or not) with me.

“I’m running late,” they may say. Nobody will be mad at you if you’re five minutes late for work in a snowstorm. You know what else will make you tardy for that morning meeting? Death. Death is very inconvenient and time consuming. Dramatic? Yes. But also not entirely unrealistic. Taking a few minutes to clear snow from your vehicle is far less time-consuming and daunting than getting a ticket, missing work, or going through the process of making an insurance claim which ends up costing everyone in the end.

Another common occurrence in Canada is the snow hat. Fashioned by clearing snow from most of the vehicle but leaving the roof covered, this causes flying snow to blind the drivers behind you. It may be a selfish act since you are inhibiting their visibility, but it also drastically increases the chances of you being rear-ended. The excuse for this oversight is generally, “I can’t reach the roof.” This challenge also has a simple solution: Buy a longer snow brush. Numerous telescopic models are available and they aren’t expensive. Especially when you consider the cost of a collision and/or whiplash.

Driving with snow on your headlights and windows could also cost you in other ways. If an officer of the law felt so inclined, they could write you a ticket for reckless driving, driving without due consideration or operating a motor vehicle in an unsafe manner.

Still think that snow brush is a waste of time and money?