Perhaps one of the most significant inconveniences when driving is a windshield cracking due to an errant pebble, nail, or another type of roadside debris. Damaged windshields are among the top complaints regarding insurance claims, but just how serious are they? Large cracks and shatters need to be fixed as soon as possible or risk being pulled over and ticketed by local law enforcement. But is it safe to drive with a small crack? The answer is: yes, but we do not recommend it.
Each state has its own rules and regulations about operating a motor vehicle with a cracked windshield. However, Tennessee has no such state laws, instead relying on federal regulations:
- Cracks located from the top edge of the windshield to within two inches of the top of the steering wheel cannot have other intersecting cracks.
- The size of cracks and chips must be less than ¾ inch and cannot be within three inches of another damaged section of the windshield.
While driving with a cracked windshield is legal, within the scope of federal regulations, that does not mean it is safe. Windshields are designed to protect the driver and passengers from inclement weather and objects kicked up by other vehicles. Made of laminated safety glass, windshields are made to withstand extreme impact. However, a crack can compromise the structural integrity and impair a driver’s vision.
Cracks and Chips Can Grow
Glass expands in the heat. When left in a hot environment for too long, a damaged windshield will naturally expand, causing the cracks and chips in it to grow. Cracks can also increase in size by suffering repeated impacts. This is especially relevant for long-distance road trippers stuck behind construction vehicles.
Cracks located around eye level or anywhere that substantially obstruct a driver’s view are dangerous. Over time, dirt, pollen, wiper fluids, and other substances can embed themselves into the crack or chip, causing discoloration or blurred glass.
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At Witherington Injury Law, we have been protecting the rights of those injured in car accidents for almost 20 years. When involved in a car accident, your energy should be focused on your wellness and recovery. Let us handle your legal battles through efficient and aggressive representation, obtaining the compensation you deserve.