Windshield Safety 101
Windshield Safety 101—Keeping You and Your Family Safe
You probably don’t think about your windshield while you’re driving, but it’s always protecting you and your passengers. Modern windshields are one of your vehicle’s most important safety systems. The windshield performs numerous jobs, such as ensuring proper air bag deployment, keeping occupants inside the vehicle during crashes and increasing roof strength during rollover accidents. Your windshield performs these important functions:
- Enhances driving visibility
- Provides protection from the elements
- Boosts your vehicle’s gas mileage and aerodynamic performance
- Increases structural strength during accidents
- Essential for accurate air bag deployment
- Protects passengers from injuries
- Reduces highway noise
- Blocks UV radiation
Windshield Safety Glass Basics
Your windshield is not made from ordinary glass. Older vehicles were equipped with tempered safety glass. This was a major improvement, because when tempered glass breaks, it forms small chunks rather than knife-like shards. Advances in windshield glass and installation methods have increased occupant safety and reduced the number of injuries.
Federal laws now require manufacturers to use laminated windshields that feature inner and outer tempered glass layers that are bonded to a polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayer. PVB is exceptionally strong, flexible and clear. It resists damage and provides strength in case of an accident. A well-made, properly installed windshield substantially increases the roof’s structural stability. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the roof loses 10 to 40 percent of its strength if the windshield is destroyed during a rollover accident. Windshields save lives, especially when they are used in concert with seatbelts and air bags.
Protection from Flying Debris
Thanks to safety glass, your windshield can withstand substantial impacts. Occasionally, a pebble falling off a truck in front of you can cause a rock chip or crack. This type of damage occurs due to microscopic stress fractures.
Excessive vibrations, high humidity and uneven temperature fluctuations create imperceptible breaks that cause larger cracks later. In Sarasota, Tampa and Jacksonville, vehicles regularly endure excessive heat and humidity that leads to microscopic wear and tear.
Once the glass is cracked or chipped, the damage spreads along the fracture lines. Usually, if laminated glass breaks, the chunks adhere to the interlayer. Certain damage patterns like spider-web cracks are more common in laminated glass. However, a professional can usually repair the damage unless the crack or chip extends through the interlayer.
Protecting Your Windshield from Damage
Your windshield withstands everything from severe weather to debris that’s kicked up by other vehicles. Unfortunately, this means that you’ll have to replace your windshield long before you’re ready to trade in your car. You can improve your safety and avoid early replacements by following these tips:
- Clean your windshield regularly.
- Top off your windshield washing fluid.
- Replace worn-out wiper blades before they damage the glass.
- Repair cracks or chips promptly, especially if the damage is in your line of sight.
- If you need a replacement windshield, choose a certified auto glass shop.
- Only purchase OEM-quality replacement windshields.
Your windshield protects you every day. Care for it, and you’ll enjoy increased safety on the road.