If you’ve ever had a cracked windshield, you know how much of a disturbance it can cause when you are driving. However, you may think of it as only a minor annoyance and continue to drive, pushing the repair off to a time that is more convenient for you. This is inadvisable, as driving with a cracked windshield is dangerous to both you and others on the road. In fact, depending on the location and severity of the crack, it can be illegal to and may result in fines or tickets.

Decreased Visibility

The most immediate effect of a cracked windshield is that your overall visibility while driving will be diminished. Even if the crack is in the opposite corner from where you are usually looking, it can obstruct your view when turning, changing lanes, or scanning the road around you. If the crack happens to be right in front of you, then you are constantly struggling to see clearly, which will result in slower reaction times.

Aside from the crack itself obstructing your view, it is also responsible for light refraction and reflection. On a sunny day, light hitting the crack may bounce around and get in your eyes. While this won’t cause any real damage to your eyes, it is possible for this to happen at an inopportune moment causing your vision to suffer temporarily when you have to make a quick decision. Being safe on the road is partially about minimizing these types of situations, and fixing your windshield is a step in the right direction.

Reduced Structural Integrity

The only truly safe windshield is one without any damage, no matter how minor it may be. The second a chip or crack forms, your windshield begins to lose its strength and overall integrity. Think of a windshield like a helmet – once it has been damaged, its effectiveness is greatly reduced. Much like a helmet, a damaged windshield should be replaced in order to get the most protection that it can offer.

A small crack might not seem like that big of a deal, but it is highly likely that it will spread over time. The more it spreads, the further the strength of the windshield is decreased. As a crack gets larger, the windshield is providing you with less protection, and eventually even something small may cause the glass to shatter. This could be a small rock, a fluctuation in temperature, or even a slight accident such as being rear-ended.

Accidents become more likely, and their damage worse

With the combination of decreased visibility and reduced structural integrity, you are not only more likely to get into an accident, but it has a higher chance of causing more damage. Whether the crack is obstructing your view, or you end up swerving due to bright light in your eyes, you are not as safe of a driver as you would be if you were driving with an uncracked windshield. You wouldn’t drive with one eye shut, so it is advisable to avoid driving with a cracked windshield.

If you are unfortunate to be in accident, the crack in the windshield may now contribute to even further damage, as it might shatter entirely. What once could have possibly been repaired with urethane adhesive will now have to be replaced completely. A weakened windshield is a ticking time bomb and continuing to drive with one is unwise and will likely lead to more danger and higher expenses in the long run.

Your Options

Many people drive with a cracked windshield because they don’t feel that it hinders their ability to navigate or because they simply don’t want to pay for the repairs. While this is an option, we’ve gone over why you shouldn’t do this. Your best option is to bring your car in to professionals who can repair or replace your cracked windshield. They will know exactly what materials are needed and will be able to provide fair and competitive pricing. It may be painful to have to pay for something that might not have been your fault, but in the end, your safety is the most important thing, and a cracked windshield reduces your safety significantly