In states that require vehicle safety inspections, the condition of the windshield is included on the safety checklist. While a crack or a bulls-eye chip can interfere with your vision, which can be dangerous, this is actually not the biggest safety risk. Here are some lesser-known ways in which a broken or damaged windshield affects your safety.
1. Failure to Support the Roof
Even though it's easy to visualize the glass breaking or crumbling during an accident, the glass actually provides strength and support. The windshield is an important part of the shell that protects passengers during crashes and rollovers. When it's in good condition, a windshield can be remarkably strong and helps keep the metal around it from collapsing if the car ends up on its side or upside down. A cracked windshield is far more likely to collapse and fail to support the roof as it's intended to do.
2. Failure to Support the Airbag
When an airbag deploys, an intact windshield provides support for it and keeps it in the proper position to protect the occupant. Without the resistance that the windshield provides, the airbag can shift toward the dashboard instead of fully inflating against the passenger's chest. Additionally, the force of the airbag can break a weakened windshield.
3. Failure to Absorb or Disperse Shock
While safety glass does not absorb the force of an impact like metal does, it will disperse some of the energy to the car's frame and external panels so passengers will feel less of the impact. Metal crushes as it absorbs the energy, providing a cushioning effect. While safety glass is not as malleable as metal, it will disperse some of the impact when it breaks, transferring it to the steel frame and body of the vehicle. Depending on the force of the impact, the glass may stay largely intact and protect occupants' faces and heads from flying debris. When the windshield is compromised with a large crack, it's more likely to break apart and expose occupants to projectiles.
Chips and cracks are weaknesses—not only do they affect how the windshield will hold up in an accident, they also make the windshield more susceptible to other damage. For instance, if the glass has a long hairline crack or a large bull's-eye, it's inherently weaker and more likely to break under the stress of vigorous scraping, driving through potholes or even intense door slams.
No matter what kind of damage your windshield has, have it looked at by a safety glass repair expert to keep you and your passengers as safe as possible. Companies like Rochester Auto Glass & Mirror Co may be able to meet your needs in this area.Share