All too often, people take the windshield in their car for granted so it doesn’t occur to them that it has anything to do with the overall solidity of the vehicle itself. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The windshield is an important part of the car’s safety restraint system (SRS), which also includes obvious components like airbags and seatbelts. 
Contrary to popular belief, getting ticketed by the police is not the only consequence of driving around with windshield damage; it is much more serious than that. If you’re operating a vehicle with chipped glass, you could be putting yourself and other people at risk. A little ding may not seem like a big deal–like grinding brakes or steam issuing from the engine–but a cracked windshield is actually quite dangerous, no matter how small or cosmetic the damage may appear to you. 
It’s best to get the auto glass replaced or repaired right away to ensure peace of mind and protect yourself and your passengers as much as possible in the event of an accident.
The Function of a Windshield
Windshields are usually made of two sheets of laminated, or tempered, glass with a sheet of polyvinyl butyral between them for safety. They are then fused together with an autoclave which makes them transparent.  This type of glass allows the windshield to be flexible, even though it’s still breakable, and cushion the impact much better than plastic, which is actually more rigid. Cars used to have steel A-pillars to support the roof, but these days the windshield provides most of that function. 
A front windscreen protects the auto’s passengers from wind, insects and other airborne hazards and aides in the aerodynamics of the vehicle, especially on motorcycles. This ultra-durable auto glass is also crucial in an accident because it provides strong support for the front of the car. It supports airbags during deployment, which allows the passenger to rebound off it rather than fly through the front. 
Causes of a Cracked Windshield
There are many things that can cause a windshield to crack. Most commonly, damage comes from rocks or other debris flying up from the road or ricocheting off other vehicles and hitting the glass. Once there’s a small chip, the environment in which the car operates may cause that minor ding to spider out into a large crack or series of cracks. The weather can affect a crack because a change between hot and cold will expand and contract the glass, and this goes for the internal temperature as well. During the winter a particularly heavy snowfall that isn’t promptly cleared away may put excess pressure on a cracked windshield. The vibration from listening to bass-heavy music on your car stereo may also cause a small crack to expand.
A strong, solid windshield is vital to a car’s overall structural system as it prevents the roof from getting crushed in a rollover accident. In fact, the front windshield provides about 60 percent of the structural stability in a rollover and 45 percent is a front-end collision. 
It’s not just the potential cave-in of the roof that can be a risk when your windshield isn’t as solid as it can be. In a front or side impact, a chipped or cracked windshield may shatter, and allow the car to collapse further than it would have otherwise. That can put the passengers at a higher risk of injury or death, and can also mean that the car will be too damaged to be able to be repaired.
The importance of wearing a seatbelt is common knowledge these days as it keeps the occupants contained within the car. But if the seatbelt comes loose or is cut in an accident, a solid windshield can prevent the passengers from being ejected from the car into potentially greater danger such as oncoming traffic. While the auto glass may not stay intact in an accident, having a crack or chip in it means it’s almost certain to shatter.
Replacing or Repairing a Damaged Windshield
The irony of putting off repairing your windshield because of the cost is that waiting until a crack grows to eleven inches or longer will mean full replacement, a much more expensive and time-consuming process. Repairing the auto glass will also ensure that you keep your original factory-installed glass, which is more durable and reliable, and have your vehicle up and running a lot faster.
The right company will be able to tell you whether they can fix the chip or crack, or whether you will need to have the glass replaced. Generally, if you have comprehensive car insurance, this kind of repair will be covered, less any deductibles you are required to pay. Regardless, it’s important to take care of a cracked windshield as quickly as possible. Knowing that crack-free auto glass is as important to your safety as seatbelts makes you rethink putting off repairs, doesn’t it?
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