Cracks in your windshield can make driving uncomfortable. There’s no reason anyone would want to keep their windscreen this way! If you have a crack in your windshield and you can’t fix it immediately, there are some things you should know about the legality of driving like this.
It is not illegal to drive with a cracked windshield as long as the size and location of the crack meet the state-specific laws. Generally, you may legally drive if the crack is less than ¾ inches and does not obstruct your vision. However, windscreen cracks may pose a safety hazard.
In this article, I will explore the legality of driving with a cracked windshield and list the dangers of doing so. You’ll also read about the different types of windshield cracks and how you can repair minor damage at home.
Legalities of Driving With a Cracked Windshield
Windshields usually crack when you least expect it. If you’ve been the victim of flying rocks or debris and your budget is tight, driving around with the crack for a little while might be your only option.
Most states allow you to drive with small chips and cracks if they don’t impair the driver’s vision. These cracks typically don’t exceed ¾ inches (1.91 cm) in diameter. If your windshield has multiple chips or cracks, they should be more than three inches from each other.
Here are some state-specific regulations for auto windshields:
- Florida: Any chips and cracks that impair the driver’s line of sight can be considered a violation. The size and location of these don’t matter. Florida police officers can decide whether the crack impairs the driver’s vision.
- Wisconsin: In this state, your windshield may have cracks within the extent of the most critical visual areas. Driving with chips or cracks bigger than .5 inches in critical areas or 1.5 inches in other ones is illegal. You’ll have to fix even minor damage right away.
- Pennsylvania: Driving is illegal if your windshield has large chips or cracks that interfere with the driver’s line of sight. Discoloration of the windscreen is also not permitted.
- Colorado: Windshield cracks are illegal if the driver doesn’t have a clear view of the road. There’s no exact definition, but if law officials believe the cracks obstruct your view, you’ll get in trouble.
- Connecticut: Auto windshields should not include chips or cracks obstructing the driver’s view in Connecticut. If a law officer pulls you over, they’ll use their best judgment to determine if your windscreen’s defects obstruct your view.
Can You Get Pulled Over for a Cracked Windshield?
You should avoid driving with a cracked windshield. Even though it may fall within your state legalities, windshield cracks may be unsafe.
You can get pulled over for a cracked windshield by local authorities. If the officer considers your windscreen chip or cracks too severe, you can get ticketed. In some states, they can even ask you to get your vehicle towed if they deem the damage too severe for further driving.
You’ll be responsible for paying the ticket or the costs of towing your vehicle. Your ticket will also state that you must submit proof that your windshield has been replaced or repaired within a specific period.
Driving with a cracked windshield can’t only land you a ticket, but it’s dangerous.
The Dangers of Driving With a Cracked Windshield
Auto windshields protect you from debris, rocks, and insects. Without a windshield, you would get injured. If an accident happens, your windshield will keep you inside your car.
- Cracked windshields are unreliable: If your windscreen has a chip or crack, it can shatter at any time. A sudden bump in the road, small rock, or bad weather could put pressure on the crack and worsen it.
- Cracked windshields influence your line of vision: No matter where the windshield crack or chip is, your eye will catch it. This diversion could affect your vision or cause you to lose focus. Accidents happen in the blink of an eye. Just a moment’s distraction could be the reason.
- Cracked windshields don’t offer safety: A cracked windscreen provides less security. If you’re in an accident, the glass is more likely to break upon impact. You can propel out of the windshield, or something external penetrating through it may hit you. The glass shards could also injure you.
- Cracked windshields can injure you: If a small pebble hits the chip or cracks in your windscreen, the glass could shatter and harm you. This damage could also happen if you hit a bird or a larger animal. Shattered glass is hazardous since the tiny pieces could enter your eyes or penetrate deep into your skin. These micro pieces are difficult to remove.
Temporary Fixes for a Cracked Windshield
If your money’s tight and you don’t have insurance covering your windshield crack, you can use temporary fixes that might help prevent further damage.
- Glass filler: These resins and glues will cure minor chips and cracks. After you’ve picked loose glass from the damaged spot and cleaned it, let it dry completely. You can use the devices with your glue or resin kit to fill the damage. Glass fillers typically cure in sunlight or UV light.
- Super glue and tape: You can fill your windshield crack with superglue and cover it with clear packing tape. This temporary solution can prevent the crack from spreading. You can use clear nail polish if you don’t have super glue. Just remember to start on completely dry glass. These fixes shouldn’t replace a windscreen repair. You should still make an appointment at a reputable auto shop.
Different Types of Windshield Cracks
- Bullseye crack: Circular damage caused by small rocks is called bullseye cracks. These are easily repairable with a DIY kit and generally don’t spread. A similar chip is the half-moon crack that has a semicircular shape.
- Star crack: A star-shaped shatter can form when a sharp object hits your windscreen. If not taken care of immediately, these cracks can spread quickly. One often finds these types of cracks with a bullseye crack, with the star forming on the edge of the bullseye.
- Edge crack: These cracks develop within 2 inches of the windshield lining. They start small and can spread up to 12 inches long. Similar is the floater crack that develops 2 inches away from the windshield lining. Sometimes these cracks sprout from a bullseye crack.
- Stress crack: Internal cracks caused by factors excluding impact are called stress cracks. These typically occur after temperature changes or due to faulty installations. You’ll need a professional to fix your windscreen stress cracks.
Repair or Replace? When To Call the Professionals!
If your insurance covers windscreen repairs, you should always call your auto shop for assistance.
Alternatively, check the crack’s size, location, type, and depth to determine whether a DIY repair or professional replacement is needed.
Damage located more than 3 inches from the windscreen edge is typically repairable. You may need a replacement if the chip is larger than one inch or longer than a dollar bill.
You can try to repair minor windscreen damage if it doesn’t penetrate through multiple glass layers.
Your state might allow you to drive with minor windscreen damage, but it’s not safe to do so. A temporary fix to prevent cracks from spreading is best if you don’t have the funds for an immediate repair.
When buying auto insurance, ask about their windscreen repair and replace policy. This coverage will leave you less stressed and safer when a rock unexpectedly hits your windshield. If the damage is minor, you can purchase a DIY repair kit if you don’t have insurance.
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