Taking every precaution in winter weather conditions will pay off for drivers
AnnArbor.com file photo
I pulled the “tank commander” over and it was no small task. It took a blip or two from the siren to resonate into her frosted cocoon. She pulled into a gas station lot just before the expressway.
She was indignant and had enough clueless arrogance to demand why she was being pulled over. I should have known, her New Hampshire plate announced “Live Free or Die” and apparently I was limiting her freedom. Her demand came before I could even introduce myself and explain why I was stopping her — like I do on all my traffic stops.
I told her that her job of scraping the frost was unacceptable for the conditions. I told her that if she would scrape her windows so they were not a vision obstruction I would be giving her a warning—as long as she had a valid license and no warrants. She got busy, and I strolled back to my police car, took a sip of the ever-present but unfortunately tepid coffee and ran the computer checks on her.
She already was done when I got back up to her car. I had to chuckle before she opened the frosted driver’s window to retrieve her license. It was incredible.
She had increased the clear portion of her windshield to include the driver’s half, but not all the way to the wipers and one scrape on both her driver and passenger side front windows. Clearly she did not care where she had already been because her rear window was untouched and apparently unequipped with a rear window defroster. I was dumbfounded and a little cranky.
“Seriously ma'am? Do you really think these windows are cleared?”
“Yes. Now give me my license so I can be on my way,” she demanded.
“Yes ma'am, I will be happy to give you your license when all of your windows are completely clear of frost. I mean all your windows and all the glass surfaces and your rearview mirrors as well. Let me know when you are done.”
I went back to my car and had no idea why she would not clear the windows, especially after the police had stopped her. We were out of traffic and I noticed she certainly was dressed for the weather. She wore a heavy parka, knit hat, corduroys and gloves. So neither the traffic nor her protection from the elements were the issue she had not completed the job the first time. I watched and she was angry as she scraped, but scrape she did.
When I walked back to her car, I thanked her for her cooperation and warned her to keep her windows clear. I handed her license back—sans a ticket—and she roared off with clear windows.
Driving with fogged or frosted over windows is really dangerous! You have to be able to see to drive—it is just that simple.
Winter is coming. Make sure you have an ice scraper and snow brush in your car before Mother Nature “surprises” you. Scraping frost or ice is no fun with a credit card, but it will work in “combat conditions.”
You also should consider getting a “de-icer” windshield wiper solvent and make sure to keep your solvent reservoir full. That solvent will come in handy when your windshield gets covered with that brown-gray salty road spray or mist that builds up —especially on the expressway.
Polarized sunglasses also are a necessity during the winter. The polarizing filters in those shades reduce reflective glare—of which there is plenty from dirty windshields or bouncing off bright white fields of snow. They also are necessary because sunrises and sunset come closer to rush hour as our hemisphere tilts away from the sun during the winter.
For those who prefer to warm their car, prior to travel, that is a great idea for visibility—not so much for the environment. If you choose to warm up the buggy before seat belting yourself in, make sure you do not leave the keys in the ignition while the car is unlocked.
Just as sure as Jack Frost will cover your windshield and auto glass some time this winter, two or three Ann Arborites and several more pizza delivery drivers will learn the hard way about keys left in the ignition of unlocked cars.
The good news is that usually those stolen vehicles are locally recovered. The bad news is those vehicles will be recovered with varying degrees of dents, scrapes, damage and thefts from within—it just depends on how wild the “joy-riding” thief drives it from your driveway.
Lock your doors, take your keys and employ an ice scraper to avoid that plight.
For parents of young drivers, especially those untested in snowy conditions, make sure your young driver knows that, even with ABS brakes, it takes a much greater distance to stop a vehicle. You also might quickly caution those young drivers that wet leaves spread over the roadway can provide an unexpected slickness that also adversely effects stopping distances and causes motoring drama. The best tip for young drivers—even better than don’t text or talk on a cell phone—slow down!
Keep your windshields clear and enjoy the autumnal beauty and Winter Wonderland we are afforded here in Michigan.
Lock it up, don’t leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbors.
Rich Kinsey is a retired Ann Arbor police detective sergeant who now blogs about crime and safety for AnnArbor.com.