(ARA) – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 40,000 Americans are killed and more than 5 million Americans are injured every year in highway crashes. Over 30 percent of the fatalities occur when vehicle occupants are either ejected from the vehicle or injured during rollovers. What steps can you take to help protect you and your family from this fate? One safety feature often taken for granted is your vehicle’s windshield. |
Most drivers don’t give a second thought to the thin layer of glass that separates them from the hazards of the open road. The fact is that this piece of automotive equipment keeping the elements outside could save our lives by keeping us safely inside. Modern automobile and truck windshields are part of the vehicle's safety restraint system (SRS), which includes air bags and seat belts. The SRS is designed to keep vehicle occupants within the relative safety of the passenger compartment during accidents, head-on collisions and rollovers. If any of these safety components are damaged or inoperable for any reason, the effectiveness of the entire SRS could be compromised.
In order for the windshield to perform its safety function, it must be cared for properly. Preventive care is the key to maintaining the safety of your vehicle. The following are some tips on maintaining the safety features of your windshield. Preserve the Structural Integrity of Your Vehicle The windshield is a crucial component in preserving the structural integrity of the vehicle passenger compartment during rollovers. The reason behind the grim record of fatalities in rollover crashes is the high incidence of occupant ejection and head injuries. The NHTSA evaluation of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 216 Roof Crush Resistance of Passenger Cars states a line of defense against rollover fatalities is to keep the occupant inside the car. The windshield assists in keeping passengers inside of the car and it supports the roof, keeping it from collapsing and crushing the passengers. Once the windshield is gone, typically one-third of the roof strength disappears with it and the roof crushes. To ensure the best likelihood of keeping your windshield in place in an accident, drivers should always try to save the original, factory installed windshield. The windshield is a key element of the structure of the car,” says Jon Thomas, senior design engineer at NOVUS Auto Glass, “Repair chips and dings before they lead to windshield replacement and the possible loss of the strength of your vehicle’s factory seal.” To attain optimum safety, repair a windshield whenever possible. Repair not only saves the windshield, it preserves the factory's seal of windshield to the auto body. Keeping the factory's original seal also helps avoid the risk of air and water leaks. Repairing your windshield not only saves this expensive piece of automobile equipment, but also eliminates excess waste in our landfills. Currently, discarded windshields wind up in landfills because of the excessive cost of recycling them. Repairing a windshield not only keeps it in use, but costs insurance companies and their customers less than replacement. In fact, many insurance companies won't charge the insured for a windshield repair, which has an average cost of about $50. If you are unsure if your windshield can or cannot be repaired, it is extremely important to consult a competent windshield repair specialist for advice. When Replacement is the Only Option, Ensure Proper Installation If a damaged windshield is not properly replaced and fails during a rollover, roof crush resistance may be compromised. The result of a failed windshield replacement could be serious head and neck injuries, failure of the passenger-side airbag to deploy properly, or, even worse, the ejection of occupants from the vehicle onto the roadway where they have no protection. Proper windshield replacement has evolved into a demanding science as vehicle manufacturers’ safety and structural support expectations of windshields have increased through the years. It is important to have a trained technician performing your windshield replacement. Comprehensive technician training is essential. “If the damage is beyond repair and replacement is indicated, I recommend asking if the auto glass shop endorses the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS) and trains their technicians to that standard,” advises Leo Cyr, vice president of the National Glass Association. Currently, the NGA and the Coalition for Auto Glass Safety are working with a number of state legislatures to require the licensing and certification of all auto glass technicians. After a windshield is replaced, the glass technician should inform the consumer how long they need to wait before moving the vehicle. It is important to understand the adhesive’s curing times to ensure the windshield is securely in place. Ensure Quality Visibility through Your Windshield Drivers often procrastinate when it comes to the simple maintenance task of changing their wiper blades -- for them; it's just not a priority. The majority of driving decisions are based on visibility. With that in mind, drivers need to know just how critical it is to change wiper blades regularly. Installing a new pair will immediately improve the level of visibility -- a benefit for both the driver and for those sharing the road. It is highly recommended that wiper blades or refills be changed every six months to maintain maximum driving safety. Jay Bickford, director of education for NOVUS Auto Glass, recommends the installation of silicone wiper blades that last up to 10 times as long as standard rubber blades. The modern windshield can also become pitted and scratched from dirt and sand. Pebbles and stones can fracture the glass causing dings that can affect vision. Many drivers believe that a scratch or small chip in their windshield can be left untreated. But when an object hits a windshield, some of the original glass is displaced and air is allowed to enter. Since air and glass have different densities, the human eye registers the difference in the form of a damaged or blurred area, which affects your optical clarity. In the final analysis, being a well-informed consumer is probably the best protection against automobile hazards. Practice preventative care and don’t compromise on your or your family’s safety. Courtesy of ARA Content