Road Safety tip: Clear snow and ice off your car

You are late for work, it is freezing cold outside and it snowed last night. You walk out to your car and see it covered in several inches of snow and ice. The snow is crusted on and a quick attempt to brush it off makes no difference. You get in the cold car and turn on the engine, thinking maybe you can melt it away. The windshield wipers flutter but are frozen to the snow. You venture back outside with your scraper and eventually make a hole to see out the front of the car. Good enough and you are on your way.

STOP. This frustrating experience can take a dangerous and illegal turn for the worse if you back out of your driveway. Look at these stories from local media.

It should seem obvious but driving any distance with poor visibility is dangerous. The snow and ice that prevent you from seeing out your windows or that falls from your car can get you a ticket or worse: injure someone through your negligence.

Ontario laws require motorists to be able to see clearly out the front, rear and side window while driving. This means that clearing only a small amount could see you fined. While in Ontario there is no specific law requiring you to clear snow from the top of your car, if that layer of snow falls onto your windshield it could prevent you from seeing clearly. This snow and ice could also land on another vehicle and cause an collision. Here is an image of a vehicle struck by ice from another vehicle.

Some tips to ensure ice melts on your driveway and you don’t have a meltdown on the highway include:

  • Buy a good, long-handled snow brush and ice scraper so you can reach the top of your car;
  • Raise your wipers after you park your car so that they do not freeze to the windshield and make it easier to brush the snow off;
  • Warm up your car before starting to scrape off any ice. However, you could always try this ice melt to remove any ice or snow from your vehicle to save you time;
  • A home-made solution of rubbing alcohol and water (2:1) can be sprayed on to melt snow and ice rapidly. Similar commercially sold products are available to de-ice your windows; and
  • Pull over into a safe location and remove the snow and ice immediately if it becomes a problem while driving.
Written by

Jason Singer is a founding partner of Singer Katz LLP. His practice is dedicated exclusively to acting on behalf of plaintiffs in the areas of personal injury, insurance claims and medical malpractice. Jason is recognized as a Certified Specialist in Civil Litigation by the Law Society of Ontario. He was selected the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) Outstanding Young Lawyer Award winner for 2013 and was awarded a Distinguished Service Award in 2018.