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What Is a Clear View Screen?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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A clear view screen is a disc inset in the viewing window of a boat, bus, train, or similar transport that remains clear of ice, condensation, mud, and other visual obstructions. The screen ensures that even in poor weather conditions, the operator will be able to see safely and can make steering decisions, including safely stopping the vehicle until it is possible to move freely again. Numerous companies manufacture clear view screens for insertion into existing windows, and they can also be built into a design from the start.

The clear view screen works by rotating in place to throw any detritus to the edges with the use of centrifugal force. The spin rate can vary, depending on the device, and an insulating gasket prevents fluid from leaking in around the sides of the clear view screen. Usually a small rotating arm spans the disc, but should not present a major visual distraction, especially for an experienced operator.

On a boat, the array of windows surrounding the bridge or wheelhouse may have several clear view screens to provide viewing opportunities from multiple positions. They are easy to identify from a distance, as the discs and their hardware will be clearly visible. Buses, trams, and locomotives can have similar screens mounted near the driver's line of sight for easy visibility in adverse weather conditions. Snow, sleet, salt spray, and hail can all potentially obscure an operator's view, as can deposits of ash from erupting volcanoes, major fires, and so forth.

Sometimes a clear view screen has heating to discourage condensation and ice buildups. This can be useful in extremely cold climates where there is a risk that the device might fog up, even though rotations will keep the surface mostly clear. Heating will prevent the development of ice crystals, limiting the chance that the whole screen will freeze over. The operator can turn the heating on and off, depending on conditions.

Installing a clear view screen can be helpful for any transport device likely to be used in bad weather conditions, especially if those conditions can onset suddenly. It can be critical to have a viewing window to stop boats and locomotives safely when the weather gets foul. When stopping or turning to avoid obstacles can take a long time because of size, weight, and speed, a clear view screen is necessary so operators know what they are doing. It will reduce the risk of collisions and other adverse events while underway.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WikiMotors researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By bagley79 — On Jan 25, 2012

Is a clear view screen made of the same material that a windshield is made of?

My husband is very particular about the type of windshield he has on our motorcycle. When you are driving a motorcycle, you never know when you might get hit with adverse weather conditions.

Being able to see clearly is extremely important. It also helps keep the bugs from flying in your face.

I know it is best if you are not on a motorcycle when there are bad conditions like this, but sometimes you get caught in the weather and don't have a choice.

I would think a good windshield would be very similar to a clear view screen.

By golf07 — On Jan 25, 2012

We have a boat that we spend quite a bit of time on in the summer months. The clear view screen of windows in the front of the boat serves a dual purpose.

Not only does it give the driver of the boat a clear view of where they are going, but it also helps keep the spray from the water out of their face and eyes.

If you didn't have this type of screen on a boat, you would be better off not having any kind of window at all.

The people who are in the back of the boat spotting or just riding along don't have nearly the protection from the water that the driver has.

By julies — On Jan 24, 2012

I ride a city bus back and forth to work every day. We can have a lot of pretty nasty days in the winter. There are times when all of the windows in the bus are covered with ice except for the big window the driver looks through.

I am sure glad this window stays clear of the ice and condensation or it wouldn't be safe to be on the road. I had never given much thought to the type of material that is used on a clear view screen like this.

Even on days when we have a heavy downpour of rain, the only windows you can see through is the drivers window. With a vehicle like this, I am sure this type of clear view screen is something that is worked into the design.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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