Windshield in a car is an important component since it protects you from flying debris and insects. Apart from that, windshields also provide an aerodynamic window to you. But what if you get a crack in the windshield? Can you drive with a cracked windshield?
A general rule of thumb is that a small crack that does not obstruct the driver’s view is usually okay (but not encouraged) to drive. But in case severe cracks (large and deep) that block the driver’s sightline, they might need repairing first. But it is best to fix the crack as soon as possible for your safety.
In short, the crack’s place, size, and severity determine whether you can safely drive the car. If you want to learn more about broken windshield dangers and safety measures, read this guide till the end.
Can You Drive with a Cracked Windshield?
Indeed, you can drive with a cracked windshield, but is it safe to go with one? Since it makes you susceptible to enduring more harm in case of an accident. Apart from the safety risks of driving with a broken windshield, there are legal consequences.
Legal Consequences of Driving with the Broken Windshield
While there are safety concerns about driving with cracked windshields, there is more to it. You can encounter legal consequences, such as fines and penalties, for the broken windshield. Moreover, if your windshield is in really bad shape that blocks your line of sight to drive safely you can get penalized for it. So if you want to prevent yourself from legal penalties, you should fix the windshield as soon as possible.
The Federal Law for broken or cracked windshields states that cracks smaller than ¾ inch in diameter are permitted unless they are not within three inches of range of another crack. Correspondingly, no windshield cracks in the driver’s view are allowed.
Note that the legal threshold for windshield damage varies from state to state. However, most states do not allow you to drive with a cracked windshield that blocks your vision. Moreover, the crack’s size, severity, and location also determine if you can drive the vehicle safely (in terms of law).
Besides federal law, every state has their own laws regarding cracked windshields.
For example, if you are a resident of California, you cannot drive with a windshield having 6 inches or more cracked in the driver’s line of vision. In Texas, this threshold is as low as 3 inches or more.
You might have to get a traffic citation ticket and pay some bucks if caught red-handed. Moreover, a broken windshield can also lead to more significant insurance percentages. The worst of all, the insurance company can renounce coverage in the event of an accident.
Safety Risks of Driving with a Broken Windshield
Below are some of the safety concerns of driving with a broken windshield.
Compromised Structural Integrity
The windshield is a safeguard for drivers since it protects them from dirt and debris. But its function is far greater than just dust protection. You might not know that the windshield consists of a plastic sheet sandwiched between two glass layers to give it extra flex in case of an accident.
When you have a cracked windshield, it might not have enough structural integrity to distribute the force of an impact during a collision. Simply put, a cracked or broken windshield may not offer you the same support in the case of an accident. So if you drive with a cracked windshield you can elevate the risks of severe injury or death in an accident.
If the crack on your windshield is massive and deep, it might impair your vision while driving. You may find it difficult to see the road or obstacles while driving, mostly in low-light situations or inclement weather.
So you must not go with a broken windshield if the crack impairs your line of sight, as this can increase the risk of accidents.
Glare and Distraction
Besides blocking your line of sight, a broken windshield can also reflect sunlight. Result? It can create a glare that can temporarily make you visionless while driving, which can cause accidents. Apart from that, a broken windshield can also distract you while driving.
One of the significant risks of a cracked windshield is failing an airbag deployment. You might be familiar that successful airbag deployment depends on the windshield for support.
You might already know that the windshield is a kind of backstop for the airbag when it inflates. Since the airbag inflate with a significant force, if the windshield is cracked it will not be able to withstand the pressure. In other word, the cracked windshield can let the airbag to possibly inflate outside the vehicle.
So in the event of an accident, if the windshield is broken, it will not provide enough support for the airbag to deploy correctly. So it would be best to refrain from driving with a broken windshield.
When Is It Safe to Drive with a Cracked Windshield?
Although replacing or repairing the cracked windshield is undeniable, there are some cases where it might be safe to drive with a crack in your windshield. For instance, if the windshield damage is minor and does not block your sight of the road, you can drive safely to your destination.
But if the crack is so large and deep that it blocks your vision, you should replace it. For instance, if the damage spreads like a spider web blocking your road view and reaching the windshield’s edge, you should replace it.
Moreover, driving is unsafe if the crack stops important vehicle components like the dashboard camera. And most importantly, driving at high speeds or in extreme weather conditions with a cracked windshield are risky.
It is also crucial to remember that you should take additional safety measures if your windscreen is broken and you are driving. This entails using your seatbelt, cruising at a slower speed, and giving other drivers on the road more room.
What to Do if You Have a Broken Windshield?
If you got a crack on your windscreen, it is best to address the issue immediately since you might encounter legal consequences or safety risks. Here is what to do if your windscreen is broken:
Measure the Damage
First and foremost, you have to check the severity of the damage. If the damage is severe, it leaves you unable to drive. Replace it first. Moreover, driving is unsafe if the crack spreads to the windshield’s edges. Note that minor cracks or chips can be fixed instead of replacing the entire windscreen.
Seek Help from a Professional Auto Glass Company
If the damage is severe, you must seek professional help. After assessing the cracks, a professional can better guide you about fixing or replacing the windshield. Note that you should schedule an appointment with an auto glass company as soon as possible because it is not safe to drive even a minor crack.
Check with Your Insurance Provider
As we mentioned earlier that some insurance companies renouce their coverage if yo drive with a cracked windshield and encounter an acciedent. But if you want to fix the cracked windshield before any mishap the insurance company might compensate for windshield replacement or repair costs. You should ask your insurance provider if they provide such compensation. In most cases, they offer insurance for windshield repair or replacement; however, it depends on your level of coverage.If you’re interested in learning about driving with a cracked windshield, MotorAdvices provides valuable insights and information on automotive topics. While addressing a cracked windshield is essential for safety, you may also find our article on driving with a broken axle helpful. This article discusses the potential risks and consequences associated with a damaged or broken axle and provides guidance on handling such situations. Additionally, our article on driving with a bad transmission provides insights into the symptoms, causes, and potential consequences of a malfunctioning transmission. By exploring these resources, you can gain a better understanding of various automotive scenarios and make informed decisions regarding your vehicle’s maintenance and safety.
While you can drive with a broken windshield if the crack is minor or does not block your line of sight, it is never safe to go with one. It would help if you immediately fixed or repaired the windscreen since it can lead to possible accidents and legal penalties.
Moreover, if you get a broken windshield, you should seek professional help. Furthermore, you should also ask your insurance company to compensate you for the damage. Keep in mind that your safety comes first when driving.