Most people are aware that they can get a citation for driving with a damaged windshield, but most aren’t familiar with the parameters of the law and what makes a crack or break unacceptable.
Since the Commissioner’s Regulations focus on maintaining clear vision and not the structural integrity of the windshield, they are lenient on the size, but not so much on the location. The regulation states that cracks longer than 11 inches or “star breaks” greater than 3 inches are not allowed IF any part of the crack is within the area cleared by the windshield wipers. So technically, it is completely within the law to have your windshield cracked all the way from one side to the other across the bottom, as long as it is under the wipers. Legal, but not necessarily safe.
But lenient size restrictions does not mean that you can have a ten inch crack directly in the driver’s line of vision. A separate section of state law dictates that no vehicle may operate on the roadway with glass that is broken damaged or discolored so that the driver’s visibility is obstructed. While this code is much more open to interpretation, it would certainly restrict damage that could be a distraction to the driver.
Even repairing damage that falls within the “acute area” ( the area directly in front of the driver) is frowned upon by state officials concerned with driver safety. Since repair of even very small breaks can cause a perceptible imperfection in the glass which naturally draws the eye away from the road to focus on the blemish.
Think of the last road trip you took where an insect was smashed right in your line of vision. How many moments were you focused on or aware of the blob of bug juice in front of you? Each of those moments spent glancing at the bug carcass was a precious second in which you weren’t focused completely on navigating your surroundings – and sometimes a second is all it takes for an accident to happen.
Windshield damage can be just a distracting as a dead critter, if not more. That’s why you should have a qualified professional help you decide on the best course of action in dealing with your windshield damage.