We’ve all experienced unbridled terror — a black storm brewing on the horizon during a picnic, a bump in the night causing your dog to shriek, or a moment of lost balance on top of a ladder. As humans with the intention of survival, things can often leave our gooses bumped. And, as humans, we must learn to counteract the terror, finding solutions to our issues. If your windshield cracks while driving, you are in for that high intensity of terror. You are in for a shock and surprise.
Driving can already be a stressful experience. Not only are you moving at speeds once unheard of, but you are dealing with the elements buzzing around you. In Colorado, these hazards are even more significant. Flying rocks from mountain tops, ice and salt from the winter, and blowing sand from plains, your windshield can be in for a bumpy ride in the Colorado region. Therefore, it’s possible that your windshield cracks while driving eventually (even if just a chip).
What do you do? Do you need to pull over immediately and stop driving? Should you continue on?
Aren’t Windshields Tough, Though?
If you think the concept of a windshield cracking during a commute seems outlandish, you may have a bit too much faith in your auto glass. While auto glass is technically impressive in design and strength, it’s still glass.
Ultimately, car manufacturers put safety as their top priority when creating a vehicle. Sure, everything breaks under enough force, but modern technology has made windshields invulnerable to tensile stress and five times stronger than steel.
You heard that right. A sheet of glass pulled lengthwise is five times tougher than steel.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should treat your windshield like it’s Iron Man. Though it may be stronger than steel, it’s not as strong as a tank. While impressive, this fact can be a bit misleading.
If you have a wild, flying rock hit your windshield on the highway, it’ll likely chip or crack. So how is glass five-time stronger than steel? It has to do with malleability. Glass is stiffer than steel but brittler (hence the rock shattering it); glass takes more strength to bend, but once it bends, it’s easy to crack.
Windshields are tough. Don’t get us wrong. Especially if they are made by the original manufacturer. But, anything moving too fast and violently on the road will cause a negative effect on your glass, whether a scratch or full crack.
In fact, according to Ultrabond, for every million vehicles there are over 300,000 Stone-Breaks (Chips). Therefore, you are never safe from a quick crack or chip. And, due to the ever-growing amount of hazards in the Colorado region (as noted), driving anywhere can put your windshield at risk.
Shoot, even driving slowly in the city can see potential damage. That’s just the nature of driving.
What If My Windshield Cracks While Driving?
We may sound negative and scary with our assumption that your windshield is always in danger, but it’s not as serious as it sounds. Even if a significant rock were to strike your windshield, you would still be safe.
As noted, windshields are made with safety in mind. They are two annealed panes of glass with a strip of Polyvinyl Butyral in-between. Polyvinyl Butyral is a type of laminate that holds the two annealed planes together. This laminate creates a sticky resin between the two. Therefore, if the outside of the windshield cracks, the broken pieces will stick to the middle resin and not fly off, avoiding further damage to surrounding objects. Pretty safe stuff.
If your windshield cracks while driving, glass won’t come flying into the car. You will be fine to continue driving and won’t face any immediate danger.
The Issue Is the Vision
While you aren’t in danger of flying glass, you may not be able to see. That’s the real difficult part of a windshield cracking while driving. Henceforth, if your windshield gets cracked by a flying object and you can’t see enough to drive, you may need to pull over.
If it cracks or chips and you deem you can see fine, you are okay to drive (theoretically). Glass won’t come into your vehicle and harm you. It’s all about how comfortable you are with driving with the vision or lack thereof.
But What About the Law?
If your windshield cracks while driving and you can still see fine, you can continue driving. But, you may be at risk of a ticket.
We broke down windshield damage laws here, but we’ll give you an excerpt.
Overall, there are no specific laws in the state of Colorado saying that it’s illegal to drive with a cracked or damaged windshield. Consequently, there is an adjacent law.
Colorado Revised Statute Section (CRS) 42-4-227 prohibits driving a motor vehicle with obstructed windows. Furthermore, law C.R.S. 42-4-201 prohibits driving with windshields tinted darker than 27% and broken windshield wipers.
The federal regulations from the U.S. Department of Transportation state that no crack larger than 3/4 inch in diameter, no two cracks within three inches of each other, no intersecting cracks, or cracks directly in the driver’s view should be on any operating vehicle. This is the baseline, then states piggyback off of this for stricter rules and specific laws.
So, while you can drive safely with a chipped windshield (if you can see), you still might be doing something illegal. If that’s the case, you may want to go directly to a shop, go home, or stop driving.
If your windshield cracks or chips while driving, you will likely be okay. It would take an extreme impact to break through the glass panes (we’re talking boulders). The real danger is that of vision. If you can’t see, you shouldn’t drive. It also may be illegal.
A windshield forming quick damage while flying down the highway may be a startling moment, but it’s likely nothing to worry about. If significant, you will know. If you can’t see, pull over. It’s as simple as that.
Need a Windshield Repair or Replacement ASAP?
At SLP Auto Glass, our experienced auto glass technicians can handle any form of windshield. We can fix or replace anything from pitting to spider cracks. Furthermore, we only use the highest-grade materials available. Furthermore, we will come to you, wherever you are.
Ultimately, we strive to make the windshield-replacement process simple and efficient. We understand how stressful it can be and how important your auto glass is. We will answer any questions and handle any problems you have, including contacting your insurance company.
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