What Does the Law Say about Driving with a Damaged Windscreen?

If your windscreen is cracked or chipped, there’s no doubt that you should get it fixed as soon as possible. However, if you’re away on holiday or get pulled over on your way to the fitment centre, what are your rights? It can be hard to tell where you stand with the law, and if you’re unsure, you may find that some police officers will try to take advantage of this. Read on for our tips on your car windscreen and the law in South Africa.

A Cracked Windscreen Can Be Illegal

If you have a chip or crack in your windscreen that obstructs the driver’s view, you are breaking the law by driving. In this case, you must have the chip or crack repaired before driving the vehicle.  The National Road Traffic Act stipulates the following:

“Reg 204. (1) No person shall operate on a public road a motor vehicle-

(a) which is not so constructed and maintained as to afford the driver thereof a

full and clear view of the roadway ahead and to his or her right and left when the vehicle is in use;”

Clearly, a cracked windscreen encroaching into the driver’s field of vision will stop you from having a ‘full and clear view’ of the road, making it illegal. Any reputable autoglass fitment centre will offer windscreen repair, so simply find one close to you and have it fixed. You can even have them come to you to avoid driving and breaking the law in the process. If you find yourself stuck with a badly damaged windscreen, check with PG Glass’ 24 hour call centre to see if they can assist with your cracked or chipped windscreen repair.

Your Field Of Vision Must Be Clear

The section of the National Road Traffic Act above makes it fairly clear that the driver needs to be able to see the road ahead. So if you have no cracks or chips, are you safe from legal action? Not exactly.  The Act further states that:

“(3) No person shall operate on a public road any motor vehicle-

(a) unless the visible light transmittance through-

(i) the windscreen is at least 70 percent;

when measured in accordance with paragraph 6.3 of the standard specification SABS 1191 “Safety glass for windows””

and also that

“(3) No person shall operate on a public road any motor vehicle-

 (b) unless any film or tinting material applied to any windscreen, window or partition is free from bubbles, tears or scratches; and

(c) if, from 1 January 2000, any material or film, with a textured surface, displaying a picture or graphics is applied to the rear window that covers more than one-eight of such rear window, or windscreen or a side window.”

In short, you must also ensure that:

  • Your windscreen allows enough light to permeate through it
  • Any tint of film is clear and free from scratches, marks, bubbles, or anything that will cause visual disturbances or obstruct your vision
  • Any stickers or graphics do not cover any more than an eighth of the surface area of your windscreen.


If you follow all these steps, you will be legally allowed to drive on the roads. However, this is a minimum legal requirement and does not ensure that your windscreen is safe for driving. In that vein, it is important to get windscreens repaired or replaced when damaged, even if it is legally “safe” to drive.


What Does the Law Say about Driving with a Damaged Windscreen


Image courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

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