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An obscured windscreen is a potential killer warns the AA

Call comes as part of the AA Trust’s Think Bikes campaign

The AA president has issued a seasonal warning urging drivers not to set off looking through a snow slit or peering through smears of road dirt. Edmund King was speaking as part of the AA Trust’s Think Bikes campaign which has found that a huge majority of drivers find it difficult to see cyclists even in good weather.

"Your car windscreen is not an optional extra,” says King. “Yet some drivers seem to treat it like one. Particularly in winter our patrols report numerous cases of drivers peering through frosted, frozen or filthy windscreens.”

King will highlight these issues at this week's National Road Safety Conference in Brighton and at the Motor Cycle Live 2014 event in Birmingham, revealing how poor windscreen visibility contributed to 22 fatal or serious injury accidents last year. Linking the findings to the AA Trust’s Think Bikes campaign, he emphasises that there is a particular risk when it comes to cyclists.

"Our surveys suggest some drivers find it hard to spot those on two wheels, but having an obscured windscreen can double the size of your blind spot. Drivers should regularly clean their windscreens, ensure they have adequate screen wash and make certain their side mirrors are clear too."

In fact, the organisation’s own figures state that 93% of drivers admit it is sometimes hard to see cyclists with 55% having been caught out when a cyclist ‘has appeared from nowhere’.

“Those on two wheels never appear from nowhere,” points out King. This was why six million wing mirror stickers were distributed earlier in the year reminding drivers to also check for cyclists and motorcyclists in their blind spots.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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20 comments

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freespirit1 | 9 years ago
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Farrell

Thank you for your concern about my mother in law.

She died on Boxing day.

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Saratoga | 9 years ago
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It's not just windscreens that motorists need to look at. I'm still seeing almost 10% of motor vehicles daily with bulbs out or beam aim too high. And nearly 5% with fog lights on.

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clayfit | 9 years ago
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On the continent, at least in the teutonic parts (Germany/Switzerland/Netherlands/Austria), clearing just a letter box from your windscreen gets you big trouble, up to a driving ban. All windows have to be cleared, fully, and no snow on the roof of the car either.
And satnavs that block your vision are also no-nos.
Why does this sort of common sense seem to be so hard in the UK?

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giff77 replied to clayfit | 9 years ago
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clayfit wrote:

On the continent, at least in the teutonic parts (Germany/Switzerland/Netherlands/Austria), clearing just a letter box from your windscreen gets you big trouble, up to a driving ban. All windows have to be cleared, fully, and no snow on the roof of the car either.
And satnavs that block your vision are also no-nos.
Why does this sort of common sense seem to be so hard in the UK?

Same applies in the UK. Have a look at Rule 229. Have a friend in traffic who would pull drivers in and make them clear snow off their roof, bonnet and boot. He would also ticket those who hadn't fully cleared windows, lights and plates. Meanwhile my dad hammered it home to me that the car didn't move until the windows were fully demisted and cleared. It drives me nuts in the winter when folk can't be arsed clearing their windows. Dad also had the windows spotless during the summer as he was convinced dirt and grease made visibility more difficult in sunshine. The bodywork would be filthy, but lights and windows spotless!

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farrell replied to giff77 | 9 years ago
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giff77 wrote:
clayfit wrote:

On the continent, at least in the teutonic parts (Germany/Switzerland/Netherlands/Austria), clearing just a letter box from your windscreen gets you big trouble, up to a driving ban. All windows have to be cleared, fully, and no snow on the roof of the car either.
And satnavs that block your vision are also no-nos.
Why does this sort of common sense seem to be so hard in the UK?

Same applies in the UK. Have a look at Rule 229. Have a friend in traffic who would pull drivers in and make them clear snow off their roof, bonnet and boot. He would also ticket those who hadn't fully cleared windows, lights and plates. Meanwhile my dad hammered it home to me that the car didn't move until the windows were fully demisted and cleared. It drives me nuts in the winter when folk can't be arsed clearing their windows. Dad also had the windows spotless during the summer as he was convinced dirt and grease made visibility more difficult in sunshine. The bodywork would be filthy, but lights and windows spotless!

All of this.

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freespirit1 replied to farrell | 9 years ago
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farrell wrote:
giff77 wrote:
clayfit wrote:

On the continent, at least in the teutonic parts (Germany/Switzerland/Netherlands/Austria), clearing just a letter box from your windscreen gets you big trouble, up to a driving ban. All windows have to be cleared, fully, and no snow on the roof of the car either.
And satnavs that block your vision are also no-nos.
Why does this sort of common sense seem to be so hard in the UK?

Same applies in the UK. Have a look at Rule 229. Have a friend in traffic who would pull drivers in and make them clear snow off their roof, bonnet and boot. He would also ticket those who hadn't fully cleared windows, lights and plates. Meanwhile my dad hammered it home to me that the car didn't move until the windows were fully demisted and cleared. It drives me nuts in the winter when folk can't be arsed clearing their windows. Dad also had the windows spotless during the summer as he was convinced dirt and grease made visibility more difficult in sunshine. The bodywork would be filthy, but lights and windows spotless!

All of this.

People including me do all of the above.

If I choose to use a dark visor I can be tugged by the police for it.

What is the difference between using goggles that block 80%-90% whilst cycling and wearing sunglasses that block the same amount of light under a crash helmet or whilst driving?

Sensible answers only please.

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farrell replied to freespirit1 | 9 years ago
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freespirit1 wrote:

What is the difference between using goggles that block 80%-90% whilst cycling and wearing sunglasses that block the same amount of light under a crash helmet or whilst driving?

Sensible answers only please.

Speed, weight, engines are three differences I can think of.

But you don't really want sensible answers do you? You just want to play the poor, put upon motorist troll.

How many decades is it that your mum/wife/aunt/sister has been imprisoned and unable to leave her home due to a cycle event that takes up half a day once a year?

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mrmo replied to freespirit1 | 9 years ago
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freespirit1 wrote:

If I choose to use a dark visor I can be tugged by the police for it.

What is the difference between using goggles that block 80%-90% whilst cycling and wearing sunglasses that block the same amount of light under a crash helmet or whilst driving?

Sensible answers only please.

One very simple answer, you take the glasses off if it gets dark, a visor is rather more integral to a helmet.

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freespirit1 replied to mrmo | 9 years ago
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mrmo wrote:
freespirit1 wrote:

If I choose to use a dark visor I can be tugged by the police for it.

What is the difference between using goggles that block 80%-90% whilst cycling and wearing sunglasses that block the same amount of light under a crash helmet or whilst driving?

Sensible answers only please.

One very simple answer, you take the glasses off if it gets dark, a visor is rather more integral to a helmet.

I carry a spare clear one for night use and take my chances with plod during the day. I find it preferable doing that rather than having 2 pieces of metal close to my head in an enclosed space.

Any body that says helmet visors are not easily changeable is just plain idle.

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LarryDavidJr | 9 years ago
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It's a sad day when the best large organisation that defends cyclists on the roads these days seems to be a private organisation dedicated to the motor car!

The police are too busy waving their little cameras at people on bikes going above twenty so I suppose someone has to pick up the slack.

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giff77 replied to LarryDavidJr | 9 years ago
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LarryDavidJr wrote:

It's a sad day when the best large organisation that defends cyclists on the roads these days seems to be a private organisation dedicated to the motor car!

The police are too busy waving their little cameras at people on bikes going above twenty so I suppose someone has to pick up the slack.

In the early days of the AA the mechanics originally got around by bicycle looking out for broken down vehicles and warning drivers of hazards in the road. So even this car centric organisation had to rely on two wheels.

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freespirit1 | 9 years ago
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Lightly tinted windows are allowed on the windscreen but there are different rules for the rear windows and rear screen (wrongly in my opinion).

However very dark visors are illegal for motorcyclists, surely the same should apply for the goggles that a lot of cyclists use. Especially for ones like the guy riding in the dark last night.

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notfastenough replied to freespirit1 | 9 years ago
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freespirit1 wrote:

Lightly tinted windows are allowed on the windscreen but there are different rules for the rear windows and rear screen (wrongly in my opinion).

However very dark visors are illegal for motorcyclists, surely the same should apply for the goggles that a lot of cyclists use. Especially for ones like the guy riding in the dark last night.

I've got factory-tinted windows on the rear and rear screen. I wasn't keen on the aesthetics, but they are effective at keeping the babies out of direct sunlight. With regard to visibility, I don't have a problem seeing cyclists around me (although admittedly, I am at least looking for them). A bigger problem is contrast - I can see a cyclist in my mirror just fine, then another car (with headlights on) draws alongside them, and the difference in brightness renders the cyclist invisible. A flashing light seems to combat this fairly well.

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GREGJONES | 9 years ago
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I can't believe that tinted windows are legal, fancy deliberately reducing your viability. Would it be permitted on a train or plane?

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JonD replied to GREGJONES | 9 years ago
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GREGJONES wrote:

I can't believe that tinted windows are legal, fancy deliberately reducing your viability. Would it be permitted on a train or plane?

Legal tints arent as tinted as you probably think. Law permits 75%, 70% transmission on windscreen, drivers windows respectively, where clear glass is approx 86%. The rear side windows of my Caddy have a factory tint - dunno the transmission % - can't see in very well but from inside the tint seems fairly subtle.

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balmybaldwin replied to JonD | 9 years ago
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As a driver anda cyclist, I believe rear window tinting should also be at the same level as a front screen. Ok so some vehicles have now rear window, but of late its becoming morecommon to find yourself behind a car that you cannot see through, which especially in traffic makes it harder to see a cyclist or any other traffic ahead of theschedule vehicle in front which gives people less time to plan ahead or anticipate needing to slow down etc.It also leads to people driving at the edge of their lane to try to see past the vehicle ahead. This then means the wing mirrors of cars ahead are full of the car behind them, and not getting a view up the gap where they might see motor bikes, cyclists etc filtering or blue lights in the back of the queue trying to get through.

The other thing that needs to be looked at is lights on cars. There is no doubt they are getting brighter, and smaller. This means a relatively less bright light on a bike is much harder for drivers to pick out among a crowd of lights at night, especially in the rain.

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JonD replied to balmybaldwin | 9 years ago
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balmybaldwin wrote:

As a driver anda cyclist, I believe rear window tinting should also be at the same level as a front screen. Ok so some vehicles have now rear window, but of late its becoming morecommon to find yourself behind a car that you cannot see through, which especially in traffic makes it harder to see a cyclist or any other traffic ahead of theschedule vehicle in front which gives people less time to plan ahead or anticipate needing to slow down etc.

Two points:
a) the majority of vans have solid rear doors
b) if you don't sit up the arse of the vehicle in front you have better visibilty of what's in front of it and a lot more time to react. Plus if it's a van in front he's got a better change of seeing you in his mirrors...see a)

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andyp replied to JonD | 9 years ago
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JonD wrote:
GREGJONES wrote:

I can't believe that tinted windows are legal, fancy deliberately reducing your viability. Would it be permitted on a train or plane?

Legal tints arent as tinted as you probably think. Law permits 75%, 70% transmission on windscreen, drivers windows respectively, where clear glass is approx 86%. The rear side windows of my Caddy have a factory tint - dunno the transmission % - can't see in very well but from inside the tint seems fairly subtle.

You'd be surprised. I know a couple of people who have found, on being pulled over, that their factory tints are significantly darker than the legal limit.

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gmac101 | 9 years ago
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I almost got taken out a couple of mornings ago. It was the first frost of the year and I pulled up at a T-Junction, in the "armpit" of the T planning to turn right. The view up the road on the left is always obscured by parked vans, so you have to stop to check what's coming. A car then hared round the vans and looking through their frosted side window/windscreen failed to see me waiting as they cut the corner off turning right into the road I was waiting on. I could see the look of horror on her passengers face when my presence became obvious - I couldn't see the driver because of the condensation! - she stopped a foot or so from my front wheel. My shout of "clean your windows" was greeted with a two fingered salute

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andybwhite | 9 years ago
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Obscured windscreens isn't just a winter thing though. what really bugs me is all those drivers (cars,) vans and lorries) with satnavs fixed fairly high up centarally on their windscreens which must hide that part of the nearside view where cyclists are likely to be. And its not just satnavs, there appears to be a growing fad for very large dangly things hung on the rear view mirror which must also restrict vision to the front nearside. IMHO nothing should be positioned in that part of the screen, and an FPN issued for any vehicle which has.
Rant over!  14

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