|'Peephole' drives add more danger to winter travel|
|Sunday, November 24, 2013 9:00 PM|
BY STEPHANIE GROVES
Those drivers — peephole drivers — who clear just enough snow and ice from the windshield to see out — are endangering themselves and all other pedestrians and drivers in their path.
Delphos Police Chief Kyle Fittro was adamant about drivers clearing snow and ice off of vehicle windows fully before driving anywhere.
“Windows need to be free and clear of obstruction,” Fittro directed.
Manager of driving training programs for American Automobile Association (AAA) Dr. Bill Van Tassel says peephole driving is a very common roadway problem and failure to completely clear all the windows can create significant blind spots.
“You may be a great decision-maker or great at maneuvering your vehicle but if you can’t see, you’ve lost right there,” Van Tassel explained. “People are in a rush and they underestimate the dangers of not fully clearing their windows.”
Another facet to the behavior is the danger to pedestrians and other drivers when chunks of snow and ice are dislodged from the vehicles that are not sufficiently cleaned off. A chunk of ice flying off a car can prove deadly if it would hit a pedestrian walking down a sidewalk, standing at a corner or getting into or out of a vehicle. That same chunk of ice flying backwards and finding its mark on a vehicle can crack the windshield on impact and/or blind a driver causing a collision leading to deaths, injuries and property damages.
Tri-county Driving Instructor Tom Osting said that he often sees people driving with their face up to the windshield trying to look through a small area scraped off during the winter.
“It’s an accident looking for a place to happen,” Osting said somberly.
He said drivers need to take that extra five minutes to defrost their windows, use a windshield washer fluid with ice melt or use a can of aerosol ice melt and remove all obstructions on their windows.
“Vehicle owners should check that their wipers are good, too,” Osting recommended. “Replace them once a year to see much better.”
Even though Ohio has no law addressing the removal of snow and ice from vehicles, there is a state law that could apply and requires operators to have a clear and unobstructed view to the front, both sides and rear of the vehicle.
Fittro explained, in short, Ohio Revised Code 4513.24 — “Windshield and windshield wipers — states that no person shall drive any motor vehicle, other than a bus, with any sign, poster or other nontransparent material upon the front windshield, side wings, side or rear windows of such vehicle other than a certificate or other paper required to be displayed by law.”
Sheriff’s deputies in Geauga County have stopped people driving with snow or ice covering their windows and given them a warning and Chagrin Falls police officers will not hesitate to pull a driver over and compel them into cleaning the snow and ice off their windows, hood, roof and trunk.
Another consideration is the rise in auto insurance premiums after receiving a moving violation.
Tips on peephole driving prevention:
• Start the vehicle, turn up the heat and turn on the defroster;
• While the engine is running, step out and spray a de-icing solution on your windshield;
• Use an ice scraper with a long handle to get some leverage to scrape the ice from the windows; and
• Continue to clean all windows on the vehicle and remove ice or snow from the hood, trunk, roof and bumpers.