Your Car Windscreen and Road Safety

this car windscreen has a crack

You probably give your car windscreen a second thought only after an unfortunate incident leads to a big crack. Or maybe on those super cold mornings where you just want to get going but your steamed up (or iced over) windscreen demands you wait a few minutes. With National Road Safety Week in play, let’s stop to think about how our windscreen contributes greatly to our – and others’ – road safety.

Most of us don’t think of our car windscreen as anything other than exactly what the name suggests: a screen protecting you from wind. And rain. It’s easy to not think about it when you simply see through it.

But your windscreen is actually an integral point of your car’s structure and safety. You might be surprised to hear that even small cracks and chips can be a safety hazard.

Does a car windscreen keep you safe?

Obviously, your car windscreen keeps you safe from hazards like stones or other flying objects. You wouldn’t want to go off-roading on gravel without one, that’s for sure! And of course, a windscreen in good condition helps to ensure great visibility while driving.

Both of these are a big part of road safety. And while we’re talking about visibility, find out whether you’re driving around in one of the safest car colours. Hint: if you’ve got a dark blue car, we have bad news.

But it doesn’t stop there. Car windscreens help to provide structural safety elements too.

windscreen damage causes airbags to not work properly

Airbags and car windscreens

Windscreens are designed to help prevent the roof of your car collapsing should you roll it. And the windscreen is key to good airbag function, because they’re used as a support.

After an accident, you’ll see that a car’s front airbags inflate up against the windscreen. This is what provides the cushioning effect. If the car windscreen isn’t there, the airbags would have no support. They’d simply inflate outside of the car’s structure, and would provide no (or much more limited) cushioning in a collision.

If your car has a damaged or badly-fitting windscreen, it could collapse or pop out entirely during a crash. This renders the airbags and windscreen pretty much useless, and in a serious collision, can even result in passengers being ejected through the windscreen

How can you ensure your windscreen is road safe?

So now you know how crucial it is to keep your car windscreen in good shape, how do you do it?

In the next section are a few tips to help you ensure good safety out on the road.

And if you’re brushing up on your general car and road safety knowledge, why not bookmark our articles on why car tyre pressure is important, road rules you might not know about, and car safety ratings.

Keep your car windscreen clean

In simulator tests, drivers crashed twice as often with a dirty windscreen than a clean one. Degraded windscreens caused by scratches or chips can also mean slower driver reactions. And slower reactions increases your likelihood of having an accident.

Keeping your windscreen squeaky clean gives you a better view of the road. And clear vision equals safer driving.

Repair windscreen chips and cracks quickly

It’s important to fix windscreen chips and cracks promptly. If you tackle these when they’re small, you can often get windscreen repairs done quickly and cheaply.

Better yet – PD Insurance covers free windscreen repair (not replacement) in our comprehensive car insurance, if the windscreen is damaged in an incident that we cover. You won’t have to pay an excess and there’s no effect to your premium.

You may be tempted to leave your windscreen after a chip, but there are some issues with this approach.

Firstly, the chip can spread and result in the need for a full replacement or extensive repairs.

Secondly, the chip causes light travelling through the windscreen to refract. This is known as ‘stray light.’ Stray light can affect driver perception and make it hard to react quickly and appropriately to hazards or other drivers.

Read more this ‘How Dangerous is Windscreen Damage’ article.

a car windscreen repair underway

Keep a safe distance and slow down

Most windscreen damage is caused by loose debris, like stones. You’re more likely to end up with windscreen damage if you’re travelling close behind another vehicle.

Similarly, you’ll have more extensive damage if you’re travelling at higher speeds than slower ones. Just like in a collision.

Moral of the story? Stick to the speed limit and maintain a safe following distance.

Use extra caution in situations where windscreen damage is more likely. If you’re driving on gravel or dirt roads, passing roadworks, or driving behind trucks carrying rubble, you’ll want to leave extra space between you and them, and go more slowly than you would normally.

Insurance and your car windscreen

As we mentioned above, with PD Insurance car windscreen repairs are free if it’s damaged in an incident covered by your comprehensive car insurance policy. Just another reason to get small cracks and chips repaired promptly.

Windscreen replacements will normally attract an excess payment, depending on insurer. But don’t avoid replacing the entire windscreen if it’s necessary. It’s a small price to pay for your safety.  

Further, if you’re one of our comprehensive car insurance policyholders, you’ve the option to add in windscreen and window glass cover. This allows you one excess free glass claim per year, up to $1,500 coverage.

Not a customer yet? Check out our comprehensive car insurance here. And then get a quote.

Over to you

 Did you know that your windscreen was so crucial for road safety? Tell us why or why not in the comments.

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