Do cars need side-window wipers?

Rant by Greg Wilson

It would be impossible to drive in the rain or snow without wipers that clear the windshield yet all drivers are forced to make life-threatening decisions when looking through rain-covered side windows.

I’m talking about typical right and left turns at intersections where drivers must look through the left or right front side windows before making a 90-degree turn or during a turn.  On dark, rainy winter evenings when the side windows are being pelted with rain or snow, and a combination of street lights, vehicle lights and street reflections makes it more difficult to see, the view through the side windows can be obscured to the point where drivers may not see a car coming or a pedestrian crossing the road.

On the west coast, where I live, this is a particular problem.  Winter days are usually overcast and gloomy with frequent rain showers, and with the Sun setting at 4 pm., drivers must manage rush hour traffic in conditions of very poor visibility.

On newer cars, side window defoggers have really helped clear the condensation that used to fog up side windows in earlier vehicles; now it’s time for automakers to incorporate side window wipers, on the front side windows at least.  They’d also be useful on the rear side windows to help when changing lanes, but may not be necessary because of new blind spot warning systems and side cameras that warn of other vehicles in the blind spots.

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Think about how many times you have turned left at an intersection only to spot a pedestrian at the last minute in the middle of the crosswalk.  Or when you’ve misjudged the speed of an oncoming car as you made a right turn at a red light.  Yes, you can roll down the window for a better look – if you wanted to be pelted in the face with driving rain or sleet.  That’s not really a practical solution.

Don’t worry about being hit in the face with a wiper blade when the window is open.  They could be deactivated when the window is rolled down.

Considering the health and cost benefits of avoiding collisions, wipers on front side windows are a safety feature that’s long overdue.




About Greg Wilson

Greg Wilson is a Vancouver-based automotive journalist and contributor to Autos.ca. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).