A windshield does many things for an automobile. It complements the car's aerodynamic design. It provides optimum visibility. Special solar control glass compositions even protect the interior from the sun's harmful rays. But no auto glass function is more important than protecting the people inside the vehicle. Auto glass safety takes a joint commitment between manufacturers of (OEM) Original Equipment Quality to make the safest auto glass possible, knowledgeable professionals to install the glass correctly, and drivers to practice proper safety procedures.
Making it Safe
Safety glass is used in all automobile window glass. The name really says it all. It's glass that is specifically manufactured to be far less dangerous on impact than common flat glass.
Laminated Safety Glass (Windshields)
There are two types of manufacturing processes used to make safety glass. One is a laminating process, where two layers of glass are bonded by a plastic inner layer. This process is now required by law to be used in all windshields because it minimizes the chance of passengers being thrown through the windshield during a collision. The plastic layer cushions the impact and prevent glass from separating into thousands of tiny pieces, reducing the danger and severity of lacerations.
Tempered Safety Glass (Body Glass)
Tempered safety glass used in many side and rear windows, reduces the risks of serious injury in an accident by shattering into tiny fragments with no sharp edges.
A "tempered" glass is one that has been rapidly cooled in manufacturing so that the outside surfaces become much harder than the inner part. The differences in hardness is what causes the glass to break into fairly uniform pebbles as opposed to shards.
Make it Right - Install it Right
Whether it's laminated or tempered, the glass leaving the plant has been made to precise specifications to be as safe as possible. Now the safety process turns to installation. Windshields that are improperly installed can literally mean the difference between life and death in an accident.
Strict federal guidelines have been established to provide the basic criteria for proper automotive glass installation. Two important areas not to overlook in the installation of automotive glass are:
- Never hesitate to check the credentials of the auto glass installer. Ask about their National Glass Association (NGA) training (the highest level is to be a certified Master Installer).
- Be sure the replacement glass and adhesives used meet or exceed Original Equipment Specifications.
Driving for Safety
We've talked about safety in both auto glass manufacturing and installation. We have also noted that a primary role of a windshield is to keep occupants inside the vehicle in the event of a collision. But remember, the most important thing a driver and any passenger can do to prevent serious injuries during an accident is to wear seatbelts.
The windshield is intended to be the last line of defense to keep people inside the vehicle. And even though newer car models contain driver and perhaps passenger side airbags, people are safest when restrained by their seatbelts.
Here are more things that can help insure the safest ride possible:
- Always replace glass where cracks are in the driver's line of sight. Sometimes windshield damage can be repaired rather than requiring replacement.
- There are strict guideline that require glass to be replaced if the damage puts the safety of the passengers inside the car at risk.
- Keep the glass clean. Keep the windshield washer fluid full. Keep glass cleaner, squeegee and de-icer available.
- Prevent scratching by replacing wiper blades at the first sign of wear: Never run wipers over dry glass!
With these safe habits, an owner can expect years of dependable use from today's automotive glass. We thank you for sharing our commitment to making life on our nations roads a safer place for us all.
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