Drivers are being warned that a simple mistake when de-icing their car this winter could land them with a £40 fine.
As temperatures around the country plummet, motorists are being faced with the prospect of having to clear snow and ice from their cars before setting off.
When it’s cold enough to ice up your car windows, it’s tempting to start the car’s engine, get the heaters blasting then pop back into the house while the car warms up.
However, doing so is technically against the law if you’re parked on a public road.
Under section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1998, it is illegal to walk away from an idling car. Rule 123 of the Highway Code explains: “You must not leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running or leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road”.
Ignoring this law could see you slapped with a £20 fine, which doubles to £40 if not paid quickly and can hit £80 in London.
Police also have the option of fine you for “quitting” the vehicle - leaving the engine running while you’re not in the car - which carries a £30 fixed penalty notice.
Beyond the potential fine, leaving a car unattended and with its engine running brings the threat of an even bigger headache if you are targeted by opportunistic thieves. Whether it’s parked on a public road or your own driveway an unlocked and running car is an open invitation to crooks. Not only do you run the risk of having your car stolen but your insurer is unlikely to pay out if it was taken while the keys were in it and it was unattended.
While having to spend ages outside scraping the car isn’t fun, it’s important to do it properly. Failing to completely clear snow and ice from your car could bring its own fines.
Clearing only a portion of the windscreen can be interpreted as “not having a full view of the road ahead” which carries a fine of up to £1,000 and three points. It can also be be viewed as using a “vehicle in a dangerous condition”, which carries three penalty points and a fine ranging from £60 to £2,500.