How Long Can You Drive With a Cracked Windshield? Top 4 Risks

How long can you drive with a cracked windshield?
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The windshield is one of the most important parts of the car. It protects the driver and their passengers from debris before it could hit them or even their eyes. That’s why everyone hates winding up with a cracked windshield, especially a bad crack. Unfortunately, sometimes they’re unavoidable.

When you get one going down the road, it’s usually safe to drive but it should be fixed as soon as possible so you don’t end up in an accident. Read on to learn more about getting your windshield fixed and how long can you drive with a cracked windshield.

How long can you drive with a cracked windshield?

It depends. The answer is entirely dependent on the size of the crack. However, you should always assume that driving long distances with a cracked windshield is unsafe. A crack can expand quickly with the wrong temperatures, so you should bring your car in for consideration. It is best to address the problem immediately.

Even with a chip or crack in your windshield, you might think everything will be fine for as long as you drive at low speeds and avoid bumps and turns. However, tiny cracks tend to grow with time and put yourself and others at risk for an accident. Large cracks may go through the entire windshield, affecting the driver’s view so that it becomes unsafe to drive.

Is it dangerous to drive with a cracked windshield?

Yes. Driving with a cracked windshield can be dangerous in a lot of ways. First, a cracked windshield is dangerous because it hinders your vision. Also If you leave a crack alone, it will continue to grow, and after some time, your windshield could shatter at any moment. Finally, it may compromise your car’s safety features such as airbags in an event like a crash.

Let’s go over how a cracked windshield affects the driver and passengers, how a crack has a direct impact on your safety when driving, and how even small cracks can be harmful to your health, wallet, and the environment.

1. Hinders your vision

Driving on a cracked windshield is dangerous. You cannot see properly, so you may not be able to spot an upcoming obstacle or other vehicles. You may also fail to notice pedestrians and signs such as stop signs and traffic lights.

A crack on the windshield can also act as a mirror in bright sunlight and reflect heat rays into your eyes. This can cause temporary blindness, which could cause you to swerve out of control or hit another car or pedestrian. 

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2. It can shatter at any moment

Will a cracked windshield blow out? Yes. If you leave a crack alone, it will continue to grow, and after some time, your windshield could shatter at any moment. 

A crack or a chip in the windshield is not something that should cause you too much concern at first. It is only when you notice the cracks widening or if the crack is getting bigger, or if you see multiple cracks that need immediate attention.

As it turns out, many other factors can cause cracking and spreading of cracks in the windshield. Cracks can spread and get worse due to simple things like temperature changes, or when you hit a curb or potholes.

3. Affect airbag functions

Driving with a cracked windshield, even if it doesn’t look like it, may affect airbag function. If you are driving with a cracked windshield and got involved in an accident, the airbag will deploy. It will strike the windshield and if you are driving fast, it could shatter the glass.

If the windshield is not strong enough to withstand the impact from the airbag, the airbag will not function properly. This could make you more vulnerable to the impact of the airbag as well as result in serious injuries. 

4. Compromised structural support

Your car needs a fully functional windshield to keep you safe. After all, your windshield keeps you from dying as soon as you’re seated in the driver’s seat. Whether it be rain or other debris, your windshield is there to save your life.

A cracked or broken windshield compromises the structural integrity of your car. According to this Safe Windshields, in a front-end collision, the windshield provides up to 45% of the structural integrity of the cabin of the vehicle, and in a rollover, up to 60%. A large crack in the windshield may already have left it damaged and weak. This means that the windshield can’t do its main job of protecting you in the event of a crash.

In what states is it illegal to drive with a cracked windshield?

The states with the most stringent laws about cracked windshields are Arizona and Florida. Both states have specific laws regarding the drivability of vehicles with damaged windshields.

For example, Arizona will not allow any cracks to be larger than ¾-inch in diameter. If you have a crack that intersects with one or more other cracks, it is also prohibited. If there is a crack in your windshield that makes it difficult for you to see while driving, then you may get pulled over and ticketed by police.

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Whether you drive a few hours every day or only occasionally, you should never try to continue driving with a cracked windshield. It’s dangerous and illegal in most states. Take your car to your mechanic as soon as you can.

If driving with a cracked windshield is something you do, please take the time today or first thing tomorrow to have your windshield repaired. It doesn’t matter how small the crack is, or if it appears that the crack will not grow any further, it’s still a risk you should take seriously. Your comprehensive car insurance typically covers windshield damage claims.

Don’t forget that you not only could endanger yourself and your passengers but also anyone else on the road. So remember: Avoid driving with a cracked windshield!

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