A windscreen emergency could be a big crack miles away from home, or it could be something much worse – a shattered windscreen during an accident or collision. If your windscreen shatters, the correct response can prevent injury and even safe your life. So, if you’re driving and your windscreen shatters, what is the best way for you to respond?
Types of windscreen
There are two types of windscreen available. These two types are known as laminated windscreens and toughened windscreens.
Laminated windscreens are actually two thin sheets of glass which are separated by a sheet of plastic. The glass is sharper than toughened windscreens, but one advantage of laminated glass is that when broken, the glass does generally not enter the vehicle. Most modern day cars make use of laminated windscreens, which tend to crack in a star shape when hit, rather than shatter. If they do shatter, the plastic is designed to hold the windscreen together temporarily.
Toughened or tempered windscreens are more like the glass that side windows are often made of. When they do shatter, they splinter into relatively harmless shards that are unlikely to cut you. However, windscreens made of toughened glass go almost completely opaque when shattered, meaning you cannot see through them at all.
How does a windscreen shatter?
There are a few ways that it is possible to shatter a windscreen. Obviously, a collision with another vehicle or a solid object can cause your windscreen to shatter, especially if you were travelling at a high speed.
If you’re hit by something larger than a stone – say a large bird, a rock, or flying debris from a truck, you may also have a shattered windscreen as a result.
If your windscreen is covered in ice, don’t attempt to use hot water to melt the ice as this kind of change can cause windscreens to crack, requiring cracked windscreen repair. If not repaired, these cracks can very quickly shatter. Sometimes, extreme temperature changes can even shatter windscreens.
Although not 100% indestructible, laminated windscreens are less likely to shatter upon impact, and most windscreen fitment centres will offer them when replacing your windscreen.
What to do if your windscreen shatters
It is important to stay calm and try not to panic if your windscreen shatters while you’re driving. Try not to brake too hard, as you won’t be able to see clearly, and the car may spin or pull off to one side. Instead, lift your foot off the accelerator and brake gently. Use the indicators and pull off to the side of the road, using your windows as guidance if necessary. Some advocate breaking a hole in the windscreen using your hand (covered in a jacket or similar), but this is truly a last resort.
After this, you’ll need to assess the damage and call a tow truck. The car is not driveable, so do not You’ll want to organise for the car to be taken to an autoglass centre for windscreen replacement straight away. Ensure that you choose a reputable centre who can safely replace your windscreen with one that fits well and provides the necessary protection against impact.
Image courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK.COM