The Hidden Dangers of Driving With a Cracked Windshield

October 10, 2013

Having a cracked windshield may be ugly, inconvenient and obnoxious, but it is also unsafe. A cracked windshield poses a safety risk for anyone in the car. It is far more than just an aesthetic flaw: it changes how a vehicle responds in a crash. The windshield serves a function beyond being a wind and bug barrier the driver can see through. Its structural integrity is important for safety while driving. The following is a look at some of the hidden dangers encountered when driving with a cracked windshield:


1. Ejection from vehicle

According to research done by, the chance of surviving a crash if you are thrown from the car is significantly less than if you remain within it. While a seatbelt is the main line of defense for being ejected from a car, the windshield is a back up defense should the seatbelt fail not be worn, or be worn improperly. A cracked or improperly installed windshield may not provide this crucial service in case of an accident. Think of the windshield as the fall back plan. It is an important barrier, and if cracked it could fail during collision, and allow passengers and driver to be ejected from the vehicle.


2. Airbag deployment problems

While not every vehicle is made the same, airbags are a standard safety feature, and their proper deployment could potentially save a life. What does the windshield have to do with airbags? The windshield acts as a backstop for many passenger side airbags. When the airbag deploys, it uses the windshield to push it toward the passenger. If the windshield is cracked, it may not have the structural integrity to perform this function. The force of a deployed bag may cause the windshield to give or break. This means the airbag may break through the windshield, and deploy out the car, rather than towards the passenger. If this is the case, the passenger would not have the airbag or the windshield as a barrier, increasing their risk of injury and death.


3. Lack of roof support

One of the functions of the windshield is to act like a support beam in the construction of the car. The windshield supports the roof, it is designed to act as an aid in keeping the roof in tact in case of a roll over accident. It helps to stabilize the car’s roof even when extra pressure is added.  If the windshield has cracks, or a crack, the structural integrity may be damaged, and the windshield may fail to support the roof if the car flips, leading to a crushed cab, severe injury, or even death of the occupants. Cracks increase risk because without a structurally sound windshield, the weight of the car may collapse on the seating area.


4. Impaired view

A crack in the windshield could lead to an impaired view for the driver, putting everyone in the car at greater risk. Most insurance companies will pay to replace a windshield with a crack in the line of sight of the driver. However, cracks in other areas can also pose a visual threat, making it more difficult to see objects in the road, vehicles in other lanes, etc. They can be a distraction, and cracks tend to spread, especially if weather changes. This means that even if a chip or crack seems minor, it could quickly become a more serious problem.


Driving with a cracked windshield is just plain unsafe, as you cannot know how the vehicle will react in the event of an accident. Car manufacturers spend millions of dollars testing their vehicles in simulated crash situations in order to keep you safe. Don’t compromise that safety with a cracked windshield. 


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