Traffic Tip Tuesday: Defrost your vehicle BEFORE driving

This week we are discussing a dangerous practice I see all too often – driving with a frosted windshield. I cannot tell you how many crashes I’ve worked where the primary reason for the collision is the driver couldn’t see because he or she did not defrost the windshield. Many people either do not know it’s a violation or believe it is not an issue. When a driver cannot see where he or she is going, that person becomes very dangerous to everyone.

Some drivers use what I call the porthole approach. This is when they remove a small section of frost on the windshield directly in front of the driver. I know you have seen them, too. Others will try to use the windshield washer fluid to melt the ice. The problem with this method is that it usually just exacerbates the problem by adding more layers of ice. If some of it does melt, then there is a colored layer of ice, which may be even worse than when they started. Sometimes drivers think there isn’t much frost on the windshield and they can see through it just fine, until they turn into the sun and the reflection makes the windshield opaque.

We realize that starting your vehicle and waiting for the engine to warm up enough to defrost the windshield takes time. During the months when it gets particularly cold outside, it’s very uncomfortable waiting in a cold vehicle for this process to take place. This is where many people make the mistake of leaving the vehicle unattended. All too often FPD takes reports of stolen vehicles where the owner left the vehicle unattended while warming up. Even if you lock the vehicle doors, it only takes a few seconds for an experienced car thief to steal a car.

So what are my options? By far, the cheapest option is to buy an ice scraper. They only cost a couple of dollars and can save you thousands. Wait in the vehicle while it warms up; enjoy a cup of coffee or your favorite warm beverage and when the windshield has defrosted, head out on your way. Another option is to have a remote start system installed on your vehicle. These will start the vehicle and not allow it to be driven until a key is in the ignition or the fob is inside the vehicle, for keyless systems. There are several merchants in Farmington that sell and are able to install remote start systems.

Taking the time to defrost your vehicle will make driving safer for you, your passengers and everyone else in your path.  Drive safe!

New Mexico State Statute 66-3-846.
Windshields must be unobstructed and equipped with wipers; windows must be transparent; exception.

A. No person shall drive any motor vehicle with any sign, poster or other nontransparent material upon or in the front windshield, windows to the immediate right and left of the driver or in the rearmost window if the latter is used for driving visibility, except as provided in Section 66-3-846.1 NMSA 1978. The rearmost window is not necessary for driving visibility where outside rear-view mirrors are attached to the vehicle.

B. The windshield on every motor vehicle except a motorcycle shall be equipped with a device for cleaning rain, snow or other moisture from the windshield, which device shall be so constructed as to be controlled or operated by the driver of the vehicle.

C.Every windshield wiper upon a motor vehicle shall be maintained in good working order.

Snowbarger, MartinMartin Snowbarger has been a law enforcement officer for 18 years. He’s worked for the Farmington Police Department for 15 years and in Raton, NM for three years. Officer Snowbarger has been with FPD’s Traffic Division since 2003 and has been a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and Traffic Collision Reconstructionist for 11 years.