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Drivers should clear snow from their car to meet legal requirements while salt bins can be used to clear icy routes without risk of liability

Motorists and good Samaritans have been questioning what the laws are around clearing snow from their car, pavements and roads.

It comes as the UK experiences a spell of cold weather bringing ice and snow to some parts of the country.

The Met Office says the Arctic weather currently blasting the UK could remain for much of this week.

The bins are for public use, but only in public areas.
The bins are for public use, but only in public areas.

Do I have to de-ice my car or clear snow from my vehicle?

There is no road law that says it is illegal to drive with snow on your car.

However, the Highway Code stipulates that if driving in adverse weather conditions you must, by law, be able to see out of every glass panel in your vehicle.

This is supported by the section 41D of the Road Traffic Act 1988, meaning it is a legal requirement to have a clear view of the road ahead before you set off.

Failure to do so could incur a fine, but more importantly could place your life, the lives of your passengers and the lives of those around you in danger.

This also means ensuring your windscreen is de-iced on the outside and thoroughly demisted on the inside.

Are you liable if someone falls on a path you've cleared?

Many homes and businesses may now be wanting to clear paths and driveways for better access, however some have long feared that if someone has a fall on a surface they have cleared of snow, they risk being held legally liable.

There is no law, says the government, preventing someone from clearing snow or ice from pavement outside a property, on paths leading to a property or public spaces.

It is also very unlikely you would face any legal liability, as long as you are careful to ensure you do not make the pavement or pathway more dangerous than before while clearing. People using areas affected by snow and ice also have responsibility to be careful themselves.

Advice on the government's website explains: "You can clear snow and ice from pavements yourself. It’s unlikely that you’ll be sued or held responsible if someone is injured on a path or pavement if you’ve cleared it carefully."

A man clearing snow from his property. Image: Jane Barlow/PA.
A man clearing snow from his property. Image: Jane Barlow/PA.

Seven years ago the 'Good Samaritan' law also came into force to protect people attempting to be good citizens.

The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Act 2015 helps protect 'good Samaritans' when considering a claim of negligence or a breach of duty and seeks to counteract the perception that people risk being successfully sued if they do something for the common good such as clearing snow from a path in front of their home or trying to help in an emergency.

A teaspoon of salt is reportedly all that is needed to defrost around a square metre of ice if used carefully.

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