Clearing Ice and Snow Before You Go

Does your teen driver know it’s his responsibility to clear all ice and snow before he goes? An ice scraper and an emergency car kit could just save his life.

“Hey mom, can I borrow your ice scraper?,” my son asked the other morning as he was preparing to drive to school.  “Sure, but where’s the one that belongs in the truck?,” I replied.  “Can’t find it,” he quipped.  While I reminded him to put  it back when he was finished so I’d have it for my next trip, I was pleased that he was taking the time to clear the frost from all of the vehicle’s windows and mirrors before taking to the road. 

We introduced our son to the importance of ensuring the vehicle he’s driving is road-ready (i.e., frost as well as snow and ice-free) long before he got his license.  No peep-hole driving (that’s the guy who clears a small area or peep hole rather than the entire windshield in the hopes the defroster will do the rest), rolling snowstorms (who hasn’t gotten stuck behind that inconsiderate motorist?) or ice chunkers (no explanation required) allowed. He has cleared many a ice and/or snow covered family vehicle since the start of his teen years and now that he’s driving knows full well what he’s supposed to do. 

If you haven’t briefed your novice driver on the chores associated with winter driving, I encourage you to do so.  Getting him into the habit of removing winter’s junk from all vehicle surfaces will not only positively impact his safety, but reinforce the importance of safely sharing the road with others.  Of course, clearing ice and snow from your vehicle isn’t optional.  It’s the law in New Jersey and one that carries a fine (a hefty one if your negligence causes injury or property damage to others) if you’re stopped and cited for failing to comply.  And if that still doesn’t compell your teen (or you) to pull out the snow broom or scraper, I remind you and him that drivers and passengers in New Jersey have been seriously injured and killed by flying ice and snow – debris that began its journey on another motorist’s ride. 

In addition to keeping an ice scraper and snow brush or broom in your vehicle (as well as one in your home and office in the event your vehicle’s doors and/or trunk are frozen shut), every motorist should equip his car with a winter emergency kit.  While your teen may never need any of these items, they could prove to be a lifesaver in the event he’s stranded on the road in a winter storm or breakdowns in frigid weather.  The automotive and safety experts at AAA suggest the kit include the following:

  • Fully charged cell phone (with a charger and spare battery)pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services
  • Potable water and non-perishable snacks (i.e., granola bars, nuts, dried fruit)
  • Bag of abrasive material such as kitty litter or sand to aid with traction
  • Collapsible snow shovel
  • Warm blankets and extra clothing (i.e., gloves, hat, scarf, jacket, boots)
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Window washer solvent
  • Cloth or roll of paper towels
  • Jumper cables
  • Warning devices (i.e., reflectorized triangle or flares)
  • Basic toolkit equipped with screw drivers (Philips and flathead), pliers, adjustable wrench, and duck tape


Yes, that's a lot to stow in your vehicle.  Many years ago a colleague of mine passed along this tip for keeping it organized – pack it in an old suitcase or duffel bag so you can easily move it from your garage or basement to your car at the start of winter and back into storage in the off-season.  Of course, some of the items listed above could prove helpful year-round, so consider making a warm and cold weather kit for each of your vehicles and check them regularly to ensure everything is there and operational (i.e., flashlights, batteries). 

As for that elusive ice scraper my son couldn’t locate last week, there’s one in all of our vehicles (he just didn’t know where to look).  I’ve also purchased several more and advised all the drivers in our household where to find them just in case mom isn’t home the next time there’s frost on the windshield. 

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The Good Guy November 27, 2012 at 01:45 PM
This is a fine and great article. Most of us have heard it before. A lot of us still ignore it. I wish people would follow it and make the roads safer. What kids and adults, as well, should be taught is common courtesy. The main reason for cleaning off your windshield and the ice and snow from your car is to prevent YOU from hurting other drivers on the road, which is common courtesy. But, most of us, only think of ourselves… "I'm running late for work and I don't have time to clear off the windshield." "I'm only driving the kids to school, so why do I have to clear off the car." "Who cares, the wind will blow off the snow.” When you are clearing off your car, stop and think that you are doing something good for others by taking the time to do it. While you are thinking that, smile, it will make you feel good and maybe give you a bit a peace in your hectic day. Common courtesy, an amazing concept. And to those who take the time do this, I thank you.
Pam Fischer November 27, 2012 at 02:04 PM
I couldn't agree more!


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