Winter comes and winter goes. Depending on where you are, you’ll either get snow and ice or you won’t. To those of us who get a lot of snow, clearing snow off your vehicle is something we all have to do, but it will take on a whole new meaning if you have a modern vehicle. Let’s start with the fact that your entire vehicle should be cleared of snow; not just the windows. Many drivers take the easy road and barely brush off enough glass to see. Clearing off the vehicle takes more effort than that, especially with our modern vehicles.
Many new vehicles come equipped with modern electronics to help drivers become safer on the roads. Some of these electronics include back-up cameras, blind spot indicators and lane departure warning sensors…just to name a few. These vehicle advancements won’t help you if they’re covered in snow, ice or just the everyday winter grime. The first thing you’ll need to do is find out where these sensors and cameras are located. Your owner’s manual can help you with this. Knowing where they’re located will aid you with ensuring they are cleared from the elements before driving away. They won’t help you if the sensor or camera can’t locate what you’re trying to see or avoid.
Once you know where these sensors or cameras are located, don’t think that clearing them of snow, ice or grit once will do the trick. If the roads become slushy or more snow falls they can easily get covered up again. Each time you’ve parked after reaching your destination, check these sensors and cameras to ensure they are clear before driving away again. For example, if you have blind spot indicators and they’re covered in snow, the light won’t flash to let you know a vehicle is next to you. If you tend to trust these devices over time to let you know if it’s safe to change lanes, you could be in for a rude awakening.
The same could be said for the back-up camera. If it’s covered in snow, ice or grime, you won’t be able to see anything and that could mean backing into another vehicle, garage door or pedestrian. Take those extra 2 seconds before entering your vehicle to clean it off before you begin to drive away. If your vehicle is equipped with a Lane Departure Warning camera, it’s often positioned on the top of the windshield. Like many drivers, they may use wipers to clear off the windshield. Using just the wipers doesn’t allow you to maximize your visibility, plus the snow you leave on the top of the windshield will stop the Lane Departure Warning camera from identifying if you’re beginning to wander in your lane. Don’t be that type of driver; clear off the entire windshield before driving away.
Since the automotive industry has given drivers additional safety features, they can only work when the sensors and cameras are usable and clear. Knowing they are all clear before you drive away can aid you in driving more safely. Or…you could drive like we did 20 years ago by relying on your own abilities and not the intelligence of the vehicle.