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Come on, peephole! Throw in the towel

Senior Airman Thomas Stang, 5th Security Forces Squadron installation entry controller, demonstrates “peep-hole-driving” on Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Nov. 13, 2014. “Peep-hole-driving” is a driving practice in which only a small area of the front windshield is cleared leaving drivers vulnerable on all other sides. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Stephanie Morris)

Senior Airman Thomas Stang, 5th Security Forces Squadron installation entry controller, demonstrates “peep-hole-driving” on Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Nov. 13, 2014. “Peep-hole-driving” is a driving practice in which only a small area of the front windshield is cleared leaving drivers vulnerable on all other sides. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Stephanie Morris)

An example of “peep-hole-driving” is shown on Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Nov. 13, 2014. Nov. 11, marked the first snowfall of winter on base. With the snow comes a variety of driving challenges: needing to clear windshields, reduce speeds and leave earlier to reach destinations.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Stephanie Morris)

An example of “peep-hole-driving” is shown on Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Nov. 13, 2014. With the snow comes a variety of driving challenges: needing to clear windshields, reduce speeds and leaving earlier to reach destinations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Stephanie Morris)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- If you've been stationed at a northern tier base for more than one winter month, you're likely guilty of being a "peephole driver" - scraping just enough frost or snow off your windshield or letting your struggling defroster melt off a few square inches to where you think it's safe to drive. In fact, you might even be a serial offender.

Here's the reality of what you're saying - "my time and/or convenience and comfort are totally more important than the lives and wellbeing of the pedestrians or other drivers I might hit because of my severely limited visibility." There are really no other logical explanations for why someone would choose to operate a vehicle while peering through a hole the size of the piece of toast they ate for breakfast.

"During winter months the Spokane area can experience ice and fog conditions simultaneously," warned Lt. Col. Patrick O'Rourke, 92nd Air Refueling Wing chief of safety. "The combination of peep-hole driving and fog reduces reaction times and magnifies the danger. The five minutes you invest scraping your car far outweighs the risk of a car wreck and possible injury to yourself or others."

Peephole driving puts others, and you, at unnecessary risk. Winter driving can be dangerous enough, so why add to the hazard? Try implementing one of these steps to minimize and even eliminate the temptation to drive by faith, not by sight.

Park in your garage or under a carport (or even a tree). That's the easiest way to keep various forms of frozen moisture off of your windows.

"I live in the dorms, I don't have a garage" or "my garage is too full" or "my apartment complex doesn't have carports," you might say.

Buy and use an ice scraper. They're inexpensive and even come in various colors and lengths! Think of it as a light saber ... but different. Really different.

"But it's really cold outside" or "I don't have the time," is a possible protest to this suggestion.

Here's an idea: throw in the towel. No, I'm not saying to give up on trying to be an upstanding, safety-conscious citizen. I'm recommending you use a towel. This is a great method because unlike a garage or carport, it can be used while you're at work as well as at home. It's really easy to do. Find a towel large enough to cover the majority of your windshield. Place the bottom of the cloth under your wiper blades and close a corner in your door, and also in the passenger door if you can. Walk out to your car in the morning or after work, carefully remove the towel, get into your car, drive off while enjoying nearly perfect visibility, and wave at all the children on their way to school that you would have missed, or hit, had you been using the old peephole.

A couple of words of caution about the towel - Don't put it on wet! Believe it or not, it can freeze and become hard to remove. Also be aware that whatever is frozen to it might not remain frozen while it sits in your vehicle, so be sure to put it in or on something that won't be damaged or become smelly when wet.

Finally, as good as the towel method typically works for windshields you should still absolutely remove any ice/snow/frost from all of your other windows as you need that 360 degree visibility to drive safely.

Join the towel revolution today! It could save someone's life.