Settle it: Is it illegal to drive with snow on my car?

Can you drive with snow on your car?

We get it. It’s a rush in the mornings. Getting to work on time for that big meeting, dropping the kids off at school on the way, or even just a rush to the supermarket. With the dark mornings and bad weather rolling around, it can add even more time to your mornings deicing the car and clearing away snow.

It may be extremely tempting when you’re short on time to clear just enough of the windscreen and head off post-haste. But setting off without fully cleared windows, lights and reg plates and with snow still on the roof of your car, although it might not seem it, can be extremely dangerous. 

The Law on driving with snow on your vehicle

There is at present no law that states that it is illegal to drive with snow still on your vehicle.

However, the Highway Code clearly states that you must be able to see through every window of your car before you embark on your journey.

This is iterated again in the Road Traffic Act 1988, section 41D. The section states that it is a legal requirement to have a clear view of the road from all angles before setting off.

Driving with snow on car

Why is it dangerous?

If you ignore this, you are at risk of not being able to see cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and other vehicles due to poor visibility. This could put your life and the lives of others around you in jeopardy. On top of all of this, you run the risk of being stopped and incurring a fine by authorities.

As your car heats up and it begins to thaw the snow on the roof of your car, snow will begin to dislodge and fall off of the car. If you are driving on a main road that has been gritted, you could be driving at speeds of 40 or 50 mph. At this speed, if compacted snow containing ice becomes loose and flies off into the windscreen of the vehicle behind you, it could smash the windscreen and cause serious damage and injuries.

Although there isn’t a law that says you cannot drive with snow on your car, if the snow was to cause an accident, or it inhibits your vision of the road, then you could be charged with ‘using a motor vehicle in a dangerous condition’ or ‘driving without due consideration’.

Snow on vehicle window

Other implications

Besides there being possible legal implications of not properly clearing your vehicles before starting your journey, there are also possible implications concerning your insurance provider. If you happened to be in an accident and your insurance provider found you to be at fault due to your lack of visibility by not clearing your car and having it in good working order, then they are well within their rights to withhold a pay out.

So to avoid all of the above, ensure that you have scraped snow from all of your windows and mirrors, and that the inside is fully demisted before you set off on your journey, no matter how far you are driving, treat a two minute journey and a 2 hour journey the same: stop and scrape.

Snow on car

Clear lights and licence plates of snow

It is the law that you remove any snow obstructing lights and licence plates before driving. This is so your vehicle is clearly identifiable and with the murky conditions, it is important that your lights are easily seen to ensure that you are seen by other road users.

For more blogs on driving in adverse weather conditions and staying safe whilst driving, click here.

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