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Help & Advice: Is it Legal to Drive with a Cracked Windscreen in the UK?

Is it Legal to Drive with a Cracked Windscreen in the UK?

Suffering a cracked windscreen is a commonplace occurrence which many motorists will have experienced but is it legal to drive with a cracked windscreen in the UK?

The problem with having a cracked or chipped windscreen is that, unless visibility is reduced considerably, the temptation may be to delay a repair or replacement until a later, more convenient date. However, driving with a cracked windscreen may mean you are committing a motoring offence and, even if this isn’t the case, you could be placing yourself and your passengers in danger of being involved in a serious accident.

car's structural vulnerability

Its name may suggest that the piece of glass that separates you from the outside is nothing more than a barrier against wind, rain and snow but in fact the windscreen also provides vital structural reinforcement to the vehicle’s body as a whole.

Therefore a windscreen that is cracked may be illegal and could cause the entire windscreen to fail, leading to potentially disastrous consequences.

Cracked windscreens and MOT tests

For the purposes of the annual MOT test, whether a vehicle with a cracked windscreen will be passed as roadworthy depends on the location and size of the damage. The area directly in front of the driver, known as the A-zone, is the most critical part of the windscreen element of the MOT. This area, which is 290mm wide and in line vertically with the steering column, must not have any damage greater than 10mm across. An instant MOT failure is the likely outcome in this situation.

is it legal to drive with a cracked windscreen? - windscreen zones

On the rest of the windscreen, damage must not exceed 40mm.

Clearly, waiting for the next scheduled MOT is not sensible if your vehicle suffers a cracked windscreen. Damage, especially in the A-zone, may mean the driver’s vision is impaired, increasing the possibility of an accident involving other vehicles or pedestrians. In this situation, if driving with a defective windscreen, the vehicle’s owner would potentially face accusations of improper maintenance.

reduced visibility on windscreen

Small cracks that suddenly grow…

Even small areas of damage within the accepted dimensions can rapidly worsen and vehicle owners should bear this in mind. A cracked windscreen means that the glass is less likely to withstand the considerable pressures caused by driving at high speeds and by extremes of weather. For example, a small crack in winter when the windscreen is cold can suddenly expand if subjected to the in-car heating.

how cracks grow

The windscreen is essential in protecting you and your passengers from danger, such as high-speed missiles, like stones and loose chippings, and to help the vehicle body retain strength and stability. In an accident a cracked windscreen has the potential to enhance the risks to the occupants of a vehicle.

For example, an airbag which deploys in an accident strikes the windscreen with considerable force; if the glass is already cracked, the airbag may deploy through the windscreen instead of forwards towards the driver or front seat passenger, with serious consequences.

engineers replacing a car windscreen

Don’t delay

If you are unfortunate to suffer a cracked windscreen, you should not ignore the damage or delay its replacement until a more convenient time. For the safety of yourself, your passengers and other road users, you should obtain immediate professional advice and be prepared for the necessary replacement of the glass as a matter of urgency. For a relatively low excess, you could be helping to prevent a road accident, the long-term consequences of which could be far more serious.

Our friendly team at The Windscreen Company are professionals in delivering windscreen repair and replacement services. If you’d like more details on whether it is legal to drive with a cracked windscreen or information on any other of our services, speak to us today by calling 08009 981 068.

Click here to find your local branches

All information was collected from independent sources and was correct at the time of writing.

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