In November 2014, an Air France flight on route to Paris made an emergency landing after its windscreen cracked in mid-air!
We’ve all been there – maybe not with a Boeing 737, however almost certainly with our own car when that small chip that we keep promising to fix becomes a large crack whilst travelling at speed.
But what are the safety implications of a cracked windscreen? Can it be repaired? Is it legal to drive with a cracked windscreen? And how does it affect your MOT? In this article we review the answers to these questions to ensure that you are fully aware of the implications of driving with windscreen damage.
Depending on its size and position, a chip on your windscreen can be a real distraction whilst driving. This may not be such an issue when the chip is in its infancy, however you can never be sure when the chip is going to turn into a larger crack. When this does happen, not only can it impair your driver vision, but the shock of it happening may cause you to lose concentration, thus resulting in an accident.
So don’t ignore any small chips on your windscreen as doing so certainly won’t make it go away but it will inevitably afford it chance to grow and become irreparable. Secondary cracks can also form under the combined effect of heat, moisture, frost, dirt and vibration, so it is important to always act quickly for your safety.
When can a chip be repaired?
Depending on where on the screen it is situated, damage of up to 40mm across can sometimes be repaired. However, if the damage is right in front of the driver – which is the area known as the ‘A-zone’ – only damage up to 10mm can be repaired. To give you a perspective on this, 10mm is slightly less than the size of a 5 pence coin.
How is a chip repaired?
Having your chip repaired involves cleaning and drying the damaged area and filling it with a clear resin which has similar optical properties to glass. This will not make the damage completely disappear; however the repaired area will be much less visible and will create a smooth surface, which will in turn ensure that wipers aren’t damaged.
How much does it cost to have a chip repaired?
It is far cheaper to have a chip repaired than it is to replace a cracked windscreen. Therefore it is advisable to contact your insurance company in the first instance, as most have arrangements with windscreen repair companies. They will often repair the chip at a nominal fee of around £10.00, with the rest of the costs being covered by the insurers. They will often and most conveniently, attend at your home address or place of work and the work takes less than an hour.
Furthermore, this often does not affect your ‘no claims bonus’, although you should check the contents of your insurance policy to be sure.
Is it legal to drive with a chipped windscreen?
It is not illegal, however driving around with a windscreen chip or crack could constitute use of a motor vehicle in a dangerous condition and therefore the police could theoretically issue a fixed penalty notice if you were to be caught.
What is more likely however, is the chance of having an accident as a result of not being able to see adequately through the chip or crack and you could end up being charged with ‘driving without due care and attention’.
Will a cracked windscreen affect the MOT?
Depending on where it is located, some windscreen damage will result in an MOT failure if not attended to.
The screen is divided into two areas for the purposes of the MOT:
1) Immediately in front of the driver (The ‘A-zone’ – a 290mm wide band centred on the steering column and bounded top and bottom by the wiper swept area) – damage larger than 10mm across will normally result in a failure.
2) Elsewhere on the windscreen – damage larger than 40mm across will also normally result in failure.
Your car’s windscreen is far more than just a piece of glass to keep the wind and rain out. A clean windscreen is essential for good vision; however a bonded windscreen is also an integral part of the vehicle body shell which contributes towards its overall strength and stiffness. So keeping your windscreen in tip top condition is imperative to your safety (not to mention your pocket!) Therefore, as annoying as it is when a random stone flicks up and leaves its mark on your screen, don’t delay in taking immediate action to avoid an unnecessary accident or hefty bill.