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Car Safety

Visibility Key to Winter Driving Safety

(ARA) – Winter driving conditions can be dicey. Challenges can range from freezing rain to sleet, ice and snow. Maintaining good visibility is an important part of safe winter driving. Use common sense for winter driving conditions – make sure your windshield wipers are in good working order and that you have plenty of windshield fluid. Take a little time to completely clear your windshield of accumulated snow and ice. Don’t hit the road with only a peephole to see by.

If your windshield has been cracked or damaged, it can hinder visibility, especially in adverse driving conditions. While a small ding from a pebble kicked up by the vehicle in front of you on the road may be easy to overlook in good weather, it may be more of an issue in the winter. It is also unsafe, as small windshield cracks or dings can, if left unrepaired, turn into bigger problems.

In nighttime or low visibility driving situations, windshield damage can dramatically affect visibility, according to a study at the Highway Safety Research Institute at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In a laboratory study simulating nighttime driver decision making, windshield damage was an important factor. Sixteen drivers, ages 17 to 76, were shown slides of a two-lane rural road which they viewed through four different levels of windshield damage, both with and without simulated glare. As soon as each slide appeared, drivers pressed one of two buttons to indicate if they should slow down or if it was safe to proceed. Increasing levels of windshield damage were associated with increases in response time, with decisions made with the severely damaged windshield taking 8.5 percent longer, on the average, than with the undamaged windshield. Adding glare to windshield damage resulted in further increases in response time.

Winter weather conditions contribute to an increase in auto accidents as well. If your windshield is cracked, the overall safety of your vehicle may be compromised. “Many people don’t realize that their car’s windshield contributes to the vehicle’s structural integrity by supporting the roof during a rollover,” says Leo Cyr, vice president of the National Glass Association’s (NGA) Auto Glass Division.

If the windshield is dislodged during a rollover, roof crush may be more severe. In addition, some vehicles are equipped with passenger side airbags that use the windshield for support during deployment. A damaged or improperly installed windshield may render that air bag ineffective when needed most.

That’s why keeping your windshield in good shape is so important. Repairing or replacing your windshield should be done by a certified expert. But fixing your windshield may not be as costly as you think. Most professional auto glass businesses today offer both windshield repair and windshield replacement. By fixing small rock chips and cracks right away, you can avoid more damage, and it is highly likely that your original windshield can be saved.

The NGA’s National Windshield Repair Committee recommends replacing any windshield where the damage has pierced the windshield’s inner PVB layer or has broken the inner layer of glass. During windshield repair, the damaged windshield is not removed from the vehicle. The factory applied seal of windshield to vehicle is preserved. That fact alone may be good reason to consider windshield repair as a first option.

Some windshields may be so badly damaged that repair is not possible. If windshield replacement is indicated, Cyr recommends that consumers place their highest priority on locating a competent, professional installation company. “Windshield replacement is a skilled, safety related service requiring highly trained technicians using the best materials technology can provide,” he says.

The NGA recommends using an NGA Certified Auto Glass Technician or Master Technician for all windshield replacements and repairs. Consumers may locate NGA certified technicians in their area at,, or, where additional information on auto glass safety is also available.

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