It has been recognized on the Arrive Alive Road Safety website that vehicle fitness and aspects such as a clean windscreen are important components to ensuring safety on the road. Drivers need to recognize the dangers from environmental factors such as road works and guard against fallen debris and the impact that this might have on damaging their windscreens.
What are the dangers posed by damaged windscreens?
drivers may take longer to re-adapt their vision following exposure to the stray light effects created through a worn windscreen ("dazzling")
detection distances to objects on the road ahead may be reduced when looking through worn windscreens
the contrast of objects on the road ahead may be reduced - the consequence of which could be a reduction of visibility distances
dirty windscreens seemed to cause drivers to crash twice as often in a driving simulator (as compared to driving with a new windscreen) and when driving with a degraded windscreen, drivers reaction times to a secondary task may be slowed.
driving with a visually degraded windscreen induces fatigue and performance declines more rapidly than when driving with a non-degraded windscreen
older drivers might find worn out windscreens to be even more debilitating compared with younger drivers
Windscreen Damage on South African roads
Based on the experience of PG Glass service centres more than 90% of windscreen claims result from stone damage.
It is accepted that debris on the roads like stones, rocks and grit will always have a direct influence on the number of windscreen claims. The more debris found on the roads, the more windscreen replacements you can expect.
Consequently, the concentration in the construction of new roads and road repairs that preceded and followed the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa did contribute to a higher incidence of damaged windscreens.
Newly built roads, old roads breaking up, resurfacing of old roads, pot holes, trucks driving on the road shoulder, flood damage, and spillage from trucks carting building materials or rubble are all causing more debris on the roads.
Avoiding windscreen damage on South African roads
The faster you go, the easier your windscreen will chip or crack when it is hit by a stone. That’s why city driving contributes to far less claims than is experienced from driving on the freeways and other national and provincial roads.
Likewise, the closer you follow another vehicle, the higher is the chance that a piece of debris will hit your windscreen.
The best way to avoid your windscreen from being damaged by flying stones or other debris is to keep a safe following distance in circumstances where such damage may occur, e. g. in areas of road construction, on gravel roads or when following a truck carrying building materials or rubble. Sixty meters is considered a safe distance.
It will also be a good idea to drive slower in such circumstances.
It is not only trucks carrying endangering loads that can cause damage to a windscreen. In a high number of cases windscreen chips or cracks result from stones thrown by the wheels of passenger cars.
All load carrying vehicles are compelled by road traffic regulation 246 to properly protect any goods it is carrying from being dislodged or spilled from such a vehicle. If not, the operator or the driver must take responsibility for resulting damage. In such a case you can identify the operator through the license plate, obtaining the name and address of the registered owner from your local licensing authority and take action against them.
However, you’ll have to prove that the object that caused the damage was spilled from the vehicle you identified.
If your vehicle is insured your insurance company would most likely cover the cost of replacement. PG Glass will even submit the claim on your behalf.