Drivers urged to use ‘miracle’ 95p household object to clear frost

Driving tip: How to defrost your windscreen

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Much of northern Scotland will experience a bitter night with the Met Office forecasting temperatures as low as three degrees. Much of the rest of England and Wales will also see single-digit temperatures. With the near-freezing temperatures, many motorists will wake up to their cars covered in frost and condensation, with experts predicting thermometers to drop even further as the UK approaches winter.

Drivers will have to spend more time in the morning clearing frost, ice and potentially snow. Scraping the windscreen in the freezing cold is an unwanted and time-consuming job, with drivers often searching for alternative methods.

The de-frosting process can take a while and add on time to the morning commute, potentially making people late for the school run or work.

Drivers can make use of some simple household items to prevent the build-up. The night before, drivers are advised to pour a mixture of three parts vinegar to one part water onto the windshield and windows.

When they wake up in the morning, drivers should be greeted with a clear windscreen. The experts at Car Lease Special Offers have described it as a “miracle 95p car clean hack”.

As a general rule of thumb, if the air temperature is forecast to fall between zero and four degrees on a night with little or no cloud and light winds, then drivers need to bear in mind there may be a frost outside in the morning.

The closer it is to zero, the greater the chance of seeing frost. If the air temperature is forecast to be below zero, then the risk of seeing frost is much higher.

A study by the AA found 83 percent of drivers used a proper ice-scraper when clearing their vehicles. Meanwhile, 63 percent said they used de-icer spray when frost built up.

There is no road law that says it is illegal to drive with snow on a car. However, the Highway Code stipulates that if driving in adverse weather conditions motorists must, by law, be able to see out of every glass panel in their vehicle.

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This is supported by the section 41D of the Road Traffic Act 1988, meaning it is a legal requirement to have a clear view of the road ahead before they set off.

Failure to do so could incur a fine, but more importantly could place their life, the lives of their passengers and the lives of those around in danger, RAC reported.

This also means ensuring your windscreen is de-iced on the outside and thoroughly demisted on the inside. The whole windscreen should be clear of mist and condensation, not just a hole for the view of the driver.

There are also no laws stating that it is illegal to drive with snow on the roof of the car, if it falls off onto their windscreen while driving or flies into the path of another car then they could be penalised for “driving without due consideration” or “using a motor vehicle in a dangerous condition”.

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Other methods have been circulating with drivers looking for ways to clear their windscreen before setting off. Some involve using household items to create a solution to spray over the frost, while others involve driving habits.

Something as simple as parking their car in the right place can give drivers one less job to worry about on a cold morning. Because the sun rises in the east, it can melt away the ice on the windscreen for the driver.

While this may give drivers a few minutes extra in bed, it will depend entirely on how much sunlight they receive and how early or late they leave the house.

When the temperatures drop further, drivers can expect to see more gritting trucks on the roads, ensuring that vehicles avoid accidents on slippery roads. National Highways switched to its autumn and winter operations at the start of October.

This is a procedure it has conducted every year since the 1960’s. The new schedule will see the organisation receive forecasts and updates at various stages every day and from there will decide the course of action.

Some local authorities are based in largely urban areas where latent heat in the road surface can keep a road warmer than in a rural area – making those road temperatures up to two degrees warmer. 

This means some councils operating in a city or built-up area may not need to spread salt on roads as early in the season as National Highways which operates nationwide in rural areas as well.

Based on current weather forecasts, motorists may see National Highways gritters spreading salt on the network in December. In the event of even colder weather, snow ploughs will be sent out to deal with areas of concern.

During some years of the last five-year period, National Highways has salted some of its A-roads and motorways during the month of October when needed. Although this is not a regular occurrence, a few thousand tonnes of salt was used in 2019.

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