The Dangers of Driving With a Cracked Windshield

A minor chip or splinter in your windshield may not seem like a big deal, but it’s not something you should ignore. In our explainer, we’ll break down the dangers that arise from driving with a cracked windshield so you can understand why it’s crucial to get it fixed immediately.

Compromised Visibility

The most obvious danger of driving with a cracked windshield is that it compromises the driver’s visibility. Even if you believe the crack or splinter in your windshield is minor and out of the way, you never want to narrow your field of vision on the road.

While driving, especially at highway speeds, hazards can appear in fractions of a second in only a corner of the driver’s field of vision. Even minor obfuscations, like a small splinter, can prevent the driver from seeing oncoming dangers and avoiding them.

Loss of Structural Integrity

A windshield does more than keep the wind and the bugs out of your car; it also provides structural strength to the car’s roof. A windscreen isn’t like the door or exterior of your vehicle that can take a minor bump and maintain its overall strength.

Interesting Fact: A windshield may crack and splinter, but it won’t shatter because of an inner layer of lamination that holds it together.

As we all know, once glass cracks, it’s much more likely to crack and splinter again until it eventually shatters. A windshield is no different—one crack leads to another, bigger crack. If your windshield cracks while driving, you should pull over and get it replaced immediately before it grows even more extensive.

Ineffective Airbag Deployment

Most drivers don’t realize that the windshield is vital to safely and precisely deploy the vehicle’s airbags. The windshield provides a backdrop for the airbag to ensure that it inflates towards the passengers and is most effective.

A cracked windshield’s structural integrity is compromised and won’t provide the forceful barrier the airbag needs to deploy correctly.

Bonus Risk: Expensive Fines

While not a bodily danger, a cracked windshield is also a risk to your wallet and driving record. The laws regarding damaged windshields vary by state, but most consider them a non-moving violation and can warrant a hefty ticket.

Most laws are for “excessively” damaged windshields, but even a minor crack can be enough for a fine. But if you receive a ticket, many are rescinded with evidence the windshield was replaced soon after the violation.