Time for a spring clean… well, almost

Posted on April 8th, 2013 by James Luckhurst

muddy carRemember all the instructions barked at you by grown-ups when you were young? Wash your face. Wash your hands before dinner. Did you wash behind your ears? These are all things we’ve heard growing up from our parents. Now as we get older and supposedly more responsible, we’re supposed to keep washing, aren’t we? Well, not so much as it appears.

The past month or more has been cold, frosty and snowy. There is still some snow on the ground and the mild days we all crave could still be some way off. But cars are still finding plenty of mud and mess. How, you might ask? Well, don’t forget the total saturation of the ground, leading to excessive run-off of water from woodland and field. Near to where I live, for example, the A4 (a busy main road) is now home to a stream that crosses it close to the brow of a hill. Never mind the lethal conditions that occur in the early mornings because of overnight freezing, but think also of the muck it brings with it – and the dirt on the carriageway. Easy to see how a car’s going to get pretty filthy in a short space of time by passing through hazards like that.

And that leads to a general discussion on visibility. The driver of the car in the picture can see nothing through the rear window. Rear wipers could help to some extent; along with the washer,  he might make a “clean” patch to see what is going on behind him. But the limited view that the rear wiper gives is just that; limited. This means the driver is unlikely to see all of the risks approaching from behind. It’s like having a small porthole to see out of. Not the greatest of ideas, especially when there’s a much bigger window there underneath all of that mud.

Even if the driver couldn’t find time to wash the vehicle completely, perhaps making some effort to clean the rear window was in order. It would only take a couple of minutes to make that stop and clean the rear window. Considering one of the most common types of collisions on the UK’s roads is a rear end shunt, why not make the effort to see what’s behind you? You can’t avoid this sort of crash if you don’t know it’s about to happen.

What about the rear lights and the brake lights? It’ll be difficult for drivers following behind them to notice when our driver is braking. If it’s a gradual braking effort, it’s not as big a deal. But if the driver had to hit the anchors quickly, the driver following them wouldn’t have as much notice of their slowing… increasing the risk of a possible rear end shunt..

So, while you’re cleaning the rear window, clean off the brake lights as well. In fact, you may as well clean off all the lights – front and back. Do the side windows and mirrors too. Then with such improved visibility, you probably won’t miss anything when you’re driving; except for maybe the mud.