How Dangerous Is a Cracked Windshield?

Rocks and other small objects commonly strike against cars’ windshields, often causing them to splinter or chip or crack. When this happens, regardless of the cause, serious safety concerns exist, as well as remedies that can fix the situation very quickly.

People often ask, “How dangerous is a cracked windshield?” First, know that a damaged windshield is unlikely to shatter and cause injury.

Even so, the answer to how dangerous a particular cracked windshield is actually will vary depending on a number of factors, including where the crack starts, whether it’s on the driver side or the passenger side, and how large the crack or chip happens to be.

Your windshield is instrumental in three key areas of auto safety: provides structural support in the event of a roll over accident, serves as a “backboard” for airbag deployment and provides for the viewing area for the cameras that are integral in the Advanced Driver Safety features that are installed in your vehicle. This includes lane departure warnings, adaptive cruise control and adaptive braking.

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​What Are the Different Types of Cracked Windshield?

A number of factors can determine how dangerous a cracked windshield might be. Here are the points to consider when dealing with a damaged windshield on your car.

Size —

When an object hits a windshield, it can create large cracks or a small crack, but both are essentially weak points in the glass. If your windshield damage is on the larger side, you will want to get your windshield repaired or replaced immediately.

Smaller chips may not seem like a concern at first, but it is still advisable to have the glass repaired or replaced soon, as the damage could worsen over time.

In fact, most windshield cracks do get worse by spreading or splintering over the glass due to changing weather conditions or other debris. For example, extreme hot and cold can cause the glass to expand and contract causing cracks it grow, making visibility incredibly difficult for a driver.

Location —

If the crack in your car’s windshield is located on the passenger side of the car (and is relatively small), you can probably drive for a bit longer without too much undue hazard.

On the other hand, if your car’s windshield crack is on the driver’s side, regardless of its size, you will likely need to take it in for repair or replacement immediately, because this can hinder your ability to see while driving.

If the chip or crack is near the edge of the windshield, this can also potentially cause moisture to infiltrate the glass and cause the two layers to begin to separate from the frame. It goes without saying that this would not be a pleasant situation in which to find oneself.

Movement —

The final quality to consider when dealing with a crack in your car’s windshield is whether the chip or crack is growing in size or spreading out across the glass. If not, you should be okay for a short while, but if you notice spreading or growth, you need to have the windshield replaced or repaired very soon.

When you’re considering the nature of the damaged windshield on your car, you can and should take all three of these principal factors into account. Size, location, and movement of the chipped glass can all play a major role in determining the severity of the damage and the safety concerns associated with it for the near future.

How Long Can I Drive with a Cracked Windshield?

Considering the points above, this question cannot be answered in a blanket statement for every car and driver at all times. The size, location, and movement of the chip or crack will determine how much time the driver has to operate the vehicle safely and within the rules of the road.


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That being said, driving with a cracked windshield is never really desirable — regardless of size, location, or spreading — for very long. There are many reasons for this.

For one, many people don’t realize that their windshield does more than, well, shield them from the wind. Windshields actually contribute to the car’s overall structural integrity, too.

In other words, if your car has a chip or crack in the glass, that can literally make the entire car less safe to drive or ride in.

Another reason not to drive your car with a splintered windshield is that a cracked windshield can easily and quickly become far more damaged than it at first appears. Even though the glass used in cars is incredibly strong and durable, problems can occur without any warning.

Consider the fact that “a cracked windshield can become much worse anytime due to factors such [as] temperature fluctuations, an object striking the glass, or the entrance of dirt in the crack”. These simple changes in environmental conditions can cause your car’s windshield to get much worse in a very short period of time.

It should be noted that a windshield can generally only be repaired if it’s a small crack or rock chip. The bigger the damage gets, the more likely it becomes that the entire windshield will need to be replaced.

Are There Laws for Cracked Windshields?

The short answer is yes. That said, the longer answer is that it will depend on the geographical region where you are driving the car.

In addition to size, location, and movement of the windshield crack, there are potential legal concerns to consider. Every state in America has laws on the books regarding auto safety, and this often includes windshields and their protection for drivers and passengers.

In the state of South Carolina, for instance, no specific laws exist for when a windshield needs to be replaced; however, “the state does have a law that requires insurance companies to waive the deductible for windshield replacement when the consumer has comprehensive insurance. Based on this, cracks and chips in the driver’s view are likely to lead to a traffic stop.”

To avoid an unnecessary traffic stop and potentially worsening damage or unsafe driving environments, it is highly recommended that chipped or cracked windshields be repaired or replaced as soon as possible.


What Should I Do About My Cracked Windshield?

If you have a damaged windshield, you now know exactly how dangerous that can be. With all the issues that can come with a cracked windshield, you probably want to know what you can do to fix the situation (and fast!), to keep cracks from spreading and to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Thankfully, Auto Glass Repair is the solution to this particular problem. No matter what type of a crack or chip or splinter you might be experiencing in your car’s windshield glass, you can have it repaired or replaced easily and quickly.

The folks over at Century Glass in Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina, and in Charlotte, North Carolina, are seasoned experts and highly trained professionals when it comes to glass repair and replacement.

At Century Glass, we have helped people with their car windshield needs since 1991, delivering great experiences and making sure people feel safe and secure behind the wheel when we’re done.

We look forward to helping you with whatever windshield repair needs you may have. To get started, give us a call, send us an email, or drop by our offices today.

Call the Glass Experts at Century Glass

Century Glass is the glass company you can count on. We have a team of glass professionals who can assist you with your windshield, shower door, and home glass needs. We understand reliability and convenience are key. Our customers enjoy not just clearer glass, but see life’s moments more clearly.

Call us today at:
Columbia: 803-256-8134
Northeast Columbia: 803-699-2342
Charleston: 843-614-4628

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