Drivesmart column: Driving with obstructed vision

Fully 80 per cent of the information that we need to drive safely comes through our eyes.

By Tim Schewe

I carry a handicap parking permit. When I was first issued this permit an outline of my responsibilities said that I was to remove it from the rear view mirror while driving “…as it is against the law to drive with the Permit hanging (obstructed vision).” I often see permit holders driving with their permits hanging from the rear view mirror, so this rule is obviously not being enforced. A mention in your column may help remind drivers of their legal responsibility in this regard.

Thanks for yet another great topic suggestion, and one that is timely for another reason entirely.

Fully 80 per cent of the information that we need to drive safely comes through our eyes. Anything that keeps that information from reaching us is a concern.

The law says that you must not move your vehicle on a highway when the driver’s view to the front or to the sides is obstructed. Obstructions may range from the parking permit or other object dangling from the rearview mirror that this reader mentions.

Driving with only a small spot of frost scraped away or removed by the defrosters is what came to my mind as I always found drivers peeking through the small half circle of glass cleared by the defrosters during the first few frosts of the year. Receiving a ticket and then having to scrape or wait before continuing is not a good way to start the day.

A traffic ticket for a violation of section 195(1)(b) MVA costs $109 and three penalty points.

I have the luxury of parking my vehicle in my garage so I don’t have to scrape my windows at the beginning of my trip, but I may have to park outside at my destination. Most of the time I just use my snow brush and ice scraper to clean ALL the windows before I drive away, but with a little preparation that task can be made quicker and easier.

Covering the windshield with anything that keeps moisture away from it will prevent frost from forming on the outside. A tarp, blanket, towel or even cardboard will help reduce the work.

There are commercial de-icing sprays, but you can save a significant amount of money by making your own. Find a suitable spray bottle and fill it with a mixture of two-thirds 70 per cent isopropyl alcohol and one-third water. Spray it on, wait a few moments and all that scraping is no longer necessary.

Your spray can be stored in the vehicle as it will not freeze in most areas of our province.

Hydrophobic glass treatments may help by making it harder for the ice to stick in the first place.

While we are on the topic of vision and changes in the weather, this would be a great time to check some other vehicle components as well. Is your windshield washer topped up with the correct cleaner, are your wiper blades supple and undamaged and is your scraper at hand?

One final mention is something that I learned while researching this topic. Leaving your windshield wipers pulled back from the windshield at the end of each trip will prevent damage to the wiping edge. Your wipers will last longer and clean your windshield without streaks.

Better to be ready to cope than it is to take chances with your safety and the safety of those who have to share the road with you.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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