Slippery Slope: A Third of UK Drivers Admit to Driving Without Having Fully De-Iced Their Vehicles

  •   One in three UK drivers (36 per cent) have knowingly broken the law by driving with limited vision
  •  Young drivers (aged 25-34) are the most likely age group, with 59 per cent admitting to doing so
  •  Over half of UK drivers (54 per cent) admit to leaving their vehicle unattended for an average of seven minutes when de-icing their windscreen
  •  Green Flag has partnered with Lauren Pope and Patricia Bright to launch the ‘Can’t See, Won’t Drive’ campaign, highlighting the dangers of driving without a fully de-iced vehicle

As winter sets in across the UK, new research* by breakdown expert, Green Flag, has revealed that, despite the dangers, a third of UK road users (36 per cent) regularly get behind the wheel without having fully de-iced their vehicle.

Fed up of waiting for their windscreens to de-ice, over a quarter of UK drivers (26 per cent) say they have even driven with more than half of their windscreen restricted, dangering not only themselves but other road users in the process.

When asked why they set off without fully de-icing their cars, a fifth of respondents (19 per cent) revealed that it is actually lateness that is preventing them from being safe on the road, with many not leaving sufficient time in the morning to prepare their vehicle before setting off for the day. Other reasons included the fact that ice melts faster from the heat of the engine when driving (14 per cent) and drivers getting frustrated that it takes too long to completely de-ice their car (13 per cent).

Furthermore, 42 per cent of UK drivers only wait for their windscreen to clear, as opposed to waiting for all windows, mirrors and lights to be free of ice, before embarking on their journeys. The research has revealed that it is primarily young drivers (59 per cent), aged 25-34, who are choosing to drive with restricted vision.

It may be unsurprising that a third (33 per cent) of London’s residents say they have been involved in a collision as a result of a vehicle’s windscreen not being fully de-iced, whilst elsewhere a fifth (21 per cent) of drivers in Northern Ireland have seen the same.

But it seems the winter season can land drivers in trouble in more ways than one as over half of UK drivers (54 per cent) admit to leaving their vehicle unattended whilst waiting for it to de-ice, making them an easy target for vehicle theft, but also leaving a vehicle unattended could land drivers with a fine from £50**. This approach may be due to the fact that over a tenth of UK drivers (12 per cent) don’t keep a de-icer with them in their car at all times in the winter.

To highlight the dangers of driving without a fully de-iced vehicle, Green Flag has partnered with content creator and entrepreneur, Lauren Pope and content creator, Patricia Bright, to launch the ‘Can’t See. Won’t Drive’ campaign.

Content creator and entrepreneur, Lauren Pope, said:  “As a busy mum, I know the frustrations with being late and it can be tempting to set off before your vehicle is ready to try and make up some time. However, doing so not only puts yourself at risk, but other road users on your journey. I hope the Instagram stories I’ve created with Green Flag encourage my followers to think about the consequences of driving with limited vision, particularly in the icy, winter months.”

Content creator, Patricia Bright, said: “There’s a huge number of road users that make the decision to drive without fully de-icing their cars. It’s really dangerous especially as there’s far more of us wanting to spend time outside this year, as a result of lockdown. Driving with an iced-up windscreen makes it much less likely for drivers to see pedestrians. That’s why It’s so important to get up ten minutes earlier in the mornings and keep either a scraper or de-icing spray in your car to clear all the windows before pulling away.”

Mark Newberry, Commercial Director at Green Flag, commented: “Hazards can come at us from all angles when we’re on the road, so it is even more important that we can see all around us in icy and challenging, wintery weather conditions.

“It takes less than ten minutes to clear the entire windscreen from ice, not forgetting your side windows and mirrors. It’s crucial that you can also be seen by other drivers - so remember to clear your lights from ice too, before you embark on your journey.

“Remember, never be tempted to leave your car running unattended to warm up the vehicle, as  not only can you face a fine, but thieves thrive on cold weather and motorists leaving their cars unattended.

“Clearing your car of ice is not only an important safety check but it is also a legal requirement – that could make the difference between a safe journey and a crash - so please follow these simple steps, look out for each and stay safe this Christmas.”

Green Flag's Do’s and Don’ts for de-icing your car through winter:

  • Do use a scraper. The most effective way of de-icing car windows is still with a scraper. It’s always best to use one that’s designed for the job.
  • Do try a de-icer spray. If you don’t fancy using a scraper, you can also use de-icer sprays, which are a quick and easy way of getting the job done.
  • Do de-ice all of your windows. Never drive looking through a porthole scraped in the ice on your windscreen. Hazards come at us from all angles when we’re on the road. It’s important that we can see all around us, so make sure you clear the ice from the side windows as well as the entire windscreen.
  • Don’t pour boiling water over your windscreen. It will certainly be very effective at melting the ice, but it’s also a very effective way of causing your windscreen to crack. If you’ve got a small chip or some damage that you may not have noticed, the boiling water will get into it and the sudden expansion will turn that tiny chip into a rapidly spreading crack.

For further information, see Green Flag’s expert advice for tackling a frozen windscreen here:

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Notes to Editors:

Influencers: Both Bright and Pope have created sponsored Instagram stories with Green Flag, including an exclusive ice filter, laid over their usual content so users can’t see it properly. This is in a bid to show their audience if they can’t watch with restricted vision, they shouldn’t drive with their screen iced up either.

*Research conducted on 2,000 UK Drivers, December, 2020, by Censuswide.

** Sourced from

With over 40 years' experience, Green Flag provides customers with breakdown cover 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Customers have access to a network of breakdown operators across the UK and mainland Europe (Euro Plus cover required).

Green Flag Motoring Assistance is underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Green Flag and U K Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.