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Automotive glass and its role in vehicle safety

Automotive glass and its role in vehicle safetyThere is far more to a modern windscreen than meets the eye.  It is a core component as it forms part of the structural frame and integrity of your vehicle.

Your windscreen acts as a shield against road debris and other flying objects possibly penetrating the glass (for instance when hail strikes the glass with immense force).  In these situations, if your windscreen is damaged or cracked, it will not break into large shards of glass, given that Grandmark Glass is a highly penetration-resistant, laminated, safety glass. This eliminates any safety threat to you or any of your passengers.

Windscreens are specifically designed to add strength to your vehicle - your windscreen contributes up to 30% of the total strength of your vehicle. Should your vehicle be involved in an accident, the windscreen will help prevent the roof from collapsing or caving.  It will also protect you should you be in a front-end collision. Airbags also rely on the windscreen for support if deployed.  Given this, it is imperative that you have your windscreen fitted by experienced technicians to prevent the windscreen from popping out of the frame should the airbags be released.

According to South African law, all automotive windscreens that are sold, and fitted, in South Africa must comply with SABS standards. Each country develops its own standards and testing criteria which, in essence, are more or less the same. Some of the testing that every windscreen goes through includes:

  • Light Stability
  • Impact (Ball/Dart Testing)
  • Luminous Transmittance
  • Penetration
  • Radiation
  • Humidity
  • Distortion & Deviation
  • Abrasion Resistance
  • Temperature
  • Optical Distortion

Although these testing processes are critical to ensure optimal windscreen safety, neglecting the upkeep of your windscreen could be dangerous to you and other road users around you.

Here are a few practical tips for maintaining your windscreen…

Your windscreen plays an important role in your safety and that of your passengers.  It acts as the lens you use to navigate and it is easy to see how dangerous driving can be if you neglect to take care of your windscreen. Always make sure your windscreen is clean by wiping down the outside surface of the glass to remove any dirt and buildup. Also, wipe the inside surface with a microfiber cloth once in a while to ensure that your vision isn’t obscured by dirt and dust inside the vehicle. Dirt on a windscreen can become a hindrance to drivers especially if travelling long distances.

Check your windscreen wiper blades frequently and replace these when they start to wear down. If you don’t replace worn wiper blades, they can start to leave scratches on the glass. Replacement need not be done very often - it is good practice to inspect the condition of your wiper blades periodically and decide when a replacement is needed. You don’t want to be caught in a bad rainstorm with worn-out wipers. Worn out wipers leave streaking marks on your glass, spreading dirt and dust and as a result, obscures your vision while driving. They also make a screeching sound and bounce on your windscreen which can be very distracting when your focus needs to be on the road during the storm.

Check your windscreen for any chips or cracks and replace the windscreen if necessary. When driving behind trucks, stones tend to shoot up, hitting your windscreen and often leaving a chip on your glass. If a chip in a glass is exposed to extreme temperatures, the chip will run and cause a full-blown crack on your glass. According to South African law, you can be fined if a chip or crack is in the driver's view (known as the A-zone).

Below are the four common chips found on automotive windscreens

Below are the four common chips found on automotive windscreens:

The Bulls-Eye Chip: Named after the bull’s eye on a dartboard. As the name suggests, it is round in shape and there is a visible point of impact with concentric circles around it. Ignoring a bull’s eye crack will allow dust and oil to penetrate the crack and cause further damage.

The Star Chip: These are especially troublesome because, if left unattended, they can spread over your windscreen. The star chip occurs when an object strikes the windshield and leaves minor cracks that branch off from the point of impact.

The Half Moon Chip: The half-moon chip is a semi-circular chip caused by a blunt impact of small debris. Since it is not a complete circle, a trained technician can clean it much easier than a bull’s eye chip.

The Combination Chip: This is a mix of a bull’s eye and a star chip. Extensive damage is caused to the glass if such a crack occurs and it is difficult to repair. Even with today’s innovation, combination cracks cannot be completely repaired.

Some chips are repairable and the sooner they are dealt with, the less likely they are to spread, thereby adding to the repair cost.

Some insight into the strength of a damaged or poorly fitted windscreen...

Although a damaged windscreen will still keep you safe while driving, a crack or a chip can be seen as a weak point in the glass.  This can affect the windscreen’s ability to withstand an impact of any kind should you be in an accident. It is therefore of utmost importance to repair, or replace, a damaged windscreen as soon as possible.

A poorly fitted windscreen can cause airbags to not deploy properly causing serious bodily harm. Badly fitted windscreens cause wind noise which can be very distracting to the driver and in the unfortunate event of an accident, a poorly sealed windscreen can pop out of the vehicle on impact.

Sound advice for windscreen replacement...

Always have a windscreen repaired, or replaced, by an expert technician to ensure that it is fitted correctly.

Expert technicians will make use of only high-quality, automotive glass ensuring both your safety and the structural integrity of your vehicle.

Expert technicians will use high-quality, automotive sealants that will ensure quick drying time and safe drive-away time.

Expert technicians usually provide a guarantee on their workmanship.

Remember, clear vision is important while driving and having the correct windscreen, replaced in a professional manner, could mean the difference between life and death in an accident situation.

Also View

Automotive Glass and Its Role in Vehicle Safety - The Second Edition

Road Safety and Your Windscreen

Road Safety and Avoiding Windscreen Damage

Chip Repair and Windscreen Safety

Shatterprufe and Road Safety

Cracked Windshield, Safe Driving and the Law


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