Are Trucks Responsible for Your Broken Windshield? Your Questions Answered
Have you ever been driving on the highway peacefully, until suddenly you’re surrounded by transport trucks and you can hear tiny rocks and stones peppering your glass? Yeah, us too. Well that’s prompted most of us to wonder - are trucks on the highway responsible for any of this damage they cause? For example, if a rock kicked up by the truck causes a rock to break your windshield, should the truck driver, or transportation company have to pay for it?
In this article, we will explore the various ways your windshield is more likely to crack on the highway if you are behind a truck and all the ramifications that come with that. We also investigated the legality around whether or not trucks are responsible for broken windshields, and give you a few tips for how to avoid worrying about this altogether!
Why Your Windshield Breaks & Who is Responsible?
At least based on our own experience and what we hear from drivers constantly is that our windshields seem to be much more likely to break when driving behind trucks. But is that even true? And if so, why?
Well it turns out, there’s definitely some truth to this theory that driving behind trucks equals more windshield damage. There are typically two ways that trucks contribute to broken windshield on the highway: the first is from rocks just sitting on the road already, the second is from rocks on the truck.
In most cases, when a rock comes flying at you when you’re driving behind a transport truck, it’s due to the rock being kicked up by the tires of the truck. Whether it’s a rock that was wedged into the grooves of the tires, or the truck just happens to drive over a small rock on the highway, the rock could shoot out of the tire at speeds as much as 100 mph, and land smack dab in the middle of your windshield.
This is likely the most common source of damage, and also the one where you’re least likely to be able to claim that the truck driver or company has any liability whatsoever. In this case, since the rock came from the road, really no one is at fault, and in all fairness, the driver of the truck likely couldn’t have done anything to prevent it.
There are; however, some unique cases where a truck is carrying gravel or cement, or is just particularly dirty, where the rock that hits your windshield actually came from the truck itself. In this case, the rock wasn’t just sitting on the road waiting to go for a 100 mph ride, but rather the owner of the vehicle either didn’t secure the contents properly, or did a poor job cleaning. In this case, because the rock came directly from the vehicle, the truck owner may be responsible for your losses, and their liability coverage should pay for any damage to your windshield or vehicle.
Keep in mind that proving whether or not a rock came from the truck or the road is incredibly difficult. Even if you manage to see where the rock came from (and let’s be honest, it’s not always obvious!) trying to prove that legally is going to be very difficult, and could end up in a long, drawn out battle.
Is it Legal to Drive With a Broken Windshield?
We hopefully don’t need to tell you this, but if your windshield is severely damaged either due to an accident or just something large hitting the windshield - you absolutely should get this replaced before driving your vehicle anywhere.
But often we’re faced with a much more murky middle ground - maybe it was a small chip that has started to spider out. Maybe it started on the passenger side, and is just now creeping over to the driver’s side. In this case, when do you legally have to replace or repair the windshield?
Generally, while most states and provinces have specific laws about how much windshield damage is legally acceptable on the road, a good rule of thumb is that you should make sure the driver’s side view is never obstructed.
A tiny rock chip in the top right corner? Probably fine! A massive crack that extends over the driver’s half of the windshield - you’ll want to take that in ASAP.
As the vehicle owner, you are responsible for keeping the windshield free of obstructions that obstruct the driver’s view and repairing any damage as soon as possible if the vehicle has an accident.
How to Avoid a Broken Windshield
Windshield damage on the highway is extremely common. How to avoid windshield damage on the highway can be done through a combination of things like changing up your driving habits, and taking protective measures.
Driving a truck or car at high speeds is not only dangerous for you and your passengers, but it can also cause serious damage to your windshield. One of the most common reasons for a cracked windshield with cracks radiating from the center to the edges is that you were driving behind a truck too closely. When you see a large transport truck on the highway, try to avoid driving too close to them to minimize the likelihood that any rocks flying through the air will make contact with your glass.
But even if you’re driving carefully and safely at all times, there’s still a good chance that you’ll encounter a rogue rock here or there that could ruin your windshield (and your mood). Luckily there are options out there!
Windshield Protector from Rocks
You can protect your car’s windshield from rocks and debris with a windshield protection film like ExoShield, which is basically like a big, automotive-grade phone screen protector that goes on the outside of your windshield. The film will absorb the impact from most small rocks or debris that are likely to hit the windshield, and will reduce the chance of damage by at least 6X (or more if you opt for the thicker, more impact resistant ExoShield ULTRA film for Jeeps).
ExoShield is completely transparent, so won’t add any tint or distortion to the windshield, while giving you maximum protection on the road. It also won’t interfere with any sensors or cameras behind the windshield, so no need to worry about your ADAS systems shutting down.
How to Get Windshield Protection?
There are DIY options for flat glass windshields, but ExoShield can be installed on any vehicle by a trained installer who can mold the film to fit your windshield perfectly.
Hopefully, this blog will dispel some of the mystery surrounding the highway laws at the center of this debate. While it seems like many of these drivers and truck companies should be liable, the chances are that you’re going to have to shell out the cash for that windshield repair. Hopefully, with products like ExoShield, and a little extra care on the highway, that won’t be something you have to worry about!
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