I can see clearly now the ‘gunk’ is gone

I know we are in a drought situation and we're encouraged to conserve water but the number of vehicles I see on the road with super dirty windows is scary. Some of the automobiles I’ve seen appear to have been off-roading through mud and allowed the gunk to dry on every part of the vehicle, including the windows. I find this scary because having dirty windows impacts your ability to see through them. Some vehicles I’ve seen have windows so dirty it makes me wonder how well they can see other road users, especially pedestrians and bicyclists. According to the California Driver Handbook, motorists should keep their “windshield and side windows clean inside and out. Bright sun or headlights on a dirty window make it hard to see out.” The handbook also suggests drivers to “make sure you can see and be seen.” With fall and winter around the corner, wet weather is upon us. When it arrives, make sure to clear ice, frost, or dew from all windows before you pull away from the curb. “If you drive in rain or snow, you may have to stop sometimes to wipe mud or snow off your windshield, headlights, and taillights,” the handbook states. There are laws on the books that would allow a police officer to issue a citation to vehicles with dirty windows. “(California Vehicle Code) Section 26707 could apply is the windshield wipers were unable to adequately clear the windshield for a ‘clear’ view,” said Capt. Steve Clark of the Santa Cruz Police Department. Also, “Section 26708 of the vehicle Code addresses this,” he said. “This section could be construed to include dirt and debris obstructing the view. There is a specific subsection to address snow or ice.” Below are some rules of the road when it comes to windows from the California Vehicle Code, viewable on www.dmv.ca.gov. Condition and Use of Windshield Wipers 26707. Windshield wipers required by this code shall be maintained in good operating condition and shall provide clear vision through the windshield for the driver. Wipers shall be operated under conditions of fog, snow, or rain and shall be capable of effectively clearing the windshield under all ordinary storm or load conditions while the vehicle is in operation. Material Obstructing or Reducing Driver's View 26708. (a) (1) ( )1 A person shall not drive any motor vehicle with any object or material placed, displayed, installed, affixed, or applied upon the windshield or side or rear windows. (2) ( )1 A person shall not drive any motor vehicle with any object or material placed, displayed, installed, affixed, or applied in or upon the vehicle ( )2 that obstructs or reduces the driver’s clear view through the windshield or side windows. (3) This subdivision applies to a person driving a motor vehicle with the driver's clear vision through the windshield, or side or rear windows, obstructed by snow or ice. (b) This section does not apply to any of the following: (1) Rearview mirrors. (2) Adjustable nontransparent sunvisors ( )2 that are mounted forward of the side windows and are not attached to the glass. (3) Signs, stickers, or other materials ( )2 that are displayed in a 7-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver, signs, stickers, or other materials ( )2 that are displayed in a 7-inch square in the lower corner of the rear window farthest removed from the driver, or signs, stickers, or other materials ( )2 that are displayed in a 5-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest the driver. (4) Side windows ( )2 that are to the rear of the driver. (5) Direction, destination, or termini signs upon a passenger common carrier motor vehicle or a schoolbus, if those signs do not interfere with the driver's clear view of approaching traffic. (6) Rear window wiper motor. (7) Rear trunk lid handle or hinges. (8) The rear window or windows,( )3 if the motor vehicle is equipped with outside mirrors on both the left- and righthand sides of the vehicle that are so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway through each mirror for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of the vehicle. (9) A clear, transparent lens affixed to the side window opposite the driver on a vehicle greater than 80 inches in width and ( )2 that occupies an area not exceeding 50 square inches of the lowest corner toward the rear of that window and ( )2 that provides the driver with a wide-angle view through the lens. (10) Sun screening devices meeting the requirements of Section 26708.2 installed on the side windows on either side of the vehicle's front seat, if the driver or a passenger in the front seat has in his or her possession a letter or other document signed by a licensed physician and surgeon certifying that the person must be shaded from the sun due to a medical condition, or has in his or her possession a letter or other document signed by a licensed optometrist certifying that the person must be shaded from the sun due to a visual condition. The devices authorized by this paragraph shall not be used during darkness. (11) An electronic communication device affixed to the center uppermost portion of the interior of a windshield within an area that is not greater than 5 inches square, if the device provides either of the following: (A) The capability for enforcement facilities of the Department of the California Highway Patrol to communicate with a vehicle equipped with the device. (B) The capability for electronic toll and traffic management on public or private roads or facilities. (12) A portable Global Positioning System (GPS), which may be mounted in a 7-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver or in a 5-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest to the driver, if the system is used only for door-to-door navigation while the motor vehicle is being operated and outside of an airbag deployment zone. (c) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), transparent material may be installed, affixed, or applied to the topmost portion of the windshield if the following conditions apply: (1) The bottom edge of the material is at least 29 inches above the undepressed driver's seat when measured from a point 5 inches in front of the bottom of the backrest with the driver's seat in its rearmost and lowermost position with the vehicle on a level surface. (2) The material is not red or amber in color. (3) There is no opaque lettering on the material and any other lettering does not affect primary colors or distort vision through the windshield. (4) The material does not reflect sunlight or headlight glare into the eyes of occupants of oncoming or following vehicles to any greater extent than the windshield without the material. (d) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), clear, colorless, and transparent material may be installed, affixed, or applied to the front side windows, located to the immediate left and right of the front seat if the following conditions are met: (1) The material has a minimum visible light transmittance of 88 percent. (2) The window glazing with the material applied meets all requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 205 (49 C.F.R. 571.205), including the specified minimum light transmittance of 70 percent and the abrasion resistance of AS-14 glazing, as specified in that federal standard. (3) The material is designed and manufactured to enhance the ability of the existing window glass to block the sun's harmful ultraviolet A rays. (4) The driver has in his or her possession, or within the vehicle, a certificate signed by the installing company certifying that the windows with the material installed meet the requirements of this subdivision and identifies the installing company and the material's manufacturer by full name and street address, or, if the material was installed by the vehicle owner, a certificate signed by the material's manufacturer certifying that the windows with the material installed according to manufacturer's instructions meets the requirements of this subdivision and identifies the material's manufacturer by full name and street address. (5) If the material described in this subdivision tears or bubbles, or is otherwise worn to prohibit clear vision, it shall be removed or replaced. Amended Sec. 1, Ch. 476, Stats. 1998. Effective January 1, 1999. Amended Sec. 1, Ch. 413, Stats. 2008. Effective January 1, 2009. The 2008 amendment added the italicized material, and at the point(s) indicated, deleted the following: Defective Windshields and Rear Windows 26710. It is unlawful to operate any motor vehicle upon a highway when the windshield or rear window is in such a defective condition as to impair the driver’s vision either to the front or rear. In the event any windshield or rear window fails to comply with this code the officer making the inspection shall direct the driver to make the windshield and rear window conform to the requirements of this code within 48 hours. The officer may also arrest the driver and give him notice to appear and further require the driver or the owner of the vehicle to produce in court satisfactory evidence that the windshield or rear window has been made to conform to the requirements of this code.
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