It’s unlikely you’ve gone your entire life without ever having a damaged windshield- a rock chip at the very least. Windshield breakage typically happens one every eight years on average, but we see or hear about thousands of cases every day—some of them a bit more bizarre than others. Rocks aren’t the only thing hitting and breaking your windshield that you need to worry about. Larger and heavier objects can bounce high enough to break a windshield too. And even though your windshield is made to be seriously tough, it’s no match for some things. We’ll tell you about some of the more bizarre windshield breakage stories we’ve heard.
Many accidents are caused every day by parts that come loose from other driver’s cars- particularly commercial vehicles such as pickup and semi-trucks that see many hard miles. These heavy duty parts can cause serious windshield damage. Not only that, but after smashing through the windshield they can strike passengers, causing serious injury or even death.
Believe it or not, wheels are one of the more popular (and critical) parts that vehicles tend to lose. If the lug nuts that hold the wheel to the axle come loose, the wheel may eventually fall off. A 30+ pound wheel bouncing down the road at highway speed is sure to take out whatever lies in its path- and sometimes a car’s windshield is unlucky enough to take the brunt of the impact. Even wheels with the axle still attached have been known to break windshields. One account tells of a woman who ended up with an axle stuck through the windshield directly above the steering wheel, inches from her face. Fortunately, her son had been driving the car the night before and adjusted the seat backward a few notches.
Although less formidable and less common, tires themselves can become dismounted from the rim and land on a driver’s windshield. Another account tells of a driver who’s new used car was totaled by a semi truck tire 10 minutes after leaving the dealership. The driver of the semi had brand new tires mounted just days before. There was speculation that the tire was not seated properly during the install.
Another common culprit of smashed windshields is the tow hitch. This metal attachment that slides into a mount, bolted to a truck’s frame, can weigh anywhere from about 5 to 25 pounds. It is held in place by a pin. If the pin is not put in place or falls out, the hitch is liable to vibrate itself out of the mount. A solid piece of steel with so many angles and edges can bounce up and through a windshield, causing serious damage to whatever is in its way. Other objects causing broken windshields include leaf spring suspension parts and brake drums.
Hauled materials account for countless incidents of windshield breakage as well. These can come from trailers, tractor trailers, pickup trucks, or even just materials strapped to the roof of a car. In many instances the objects being hauled are too large for the vehicle or the load is not secured properly. Long objects such as pipe, beams, logs, and lumber account for many of these. They act like javelins and spear through windshields, forcefully striking whatever they land on beyond the windshield. Fatalities are common If the location of the strike is unlucky.
Other common objects include steel plates, crates and other random objects like large pipe couplers. These have a bit more surface area at the windshield, so the impact is not as concentrated, but the damage can certainly be just as destructive.
Accounts of odd objects striking windshields are just as numerous. Sometimes these objects innocently fall from another vehicle, either forgotten or unsecured. But other times objects are maliciously thrown from passing vehicles or off of overpasses. Take, for example, multiple accounts of gallon jugs breaking through windshields- even the windshield of a semi truck in one instance. Pranksters on Halloween are known for sometimes hurling pumpkins at vehicles. One would hope that a hollow pumpkin would simply explode on impact but too often the mass of these gourds is enough to cause serious windshield damage. Other seemingly innocent crops, like small bales of hay, can damage windshields due to their mass.
Tools left on bed rails or in open beds of trucks, such as wrenches and axes, tend to work their way towards the ground with every bump and twist in the road. Even odd objects such as dumbbells and even boat oars have been known to come loose. They then bounce along until coming in contact with something.
Unfortunately, when you combine the speed of a moving vehicle with the mass of just about any hard object glass, damage can occur when the object comes in contact with something. When it happens to come in contact with glass, the effects can be devastating. Even an object as small as a metal BB can leave a chip on a windshield. Multiply that force by the mass of the objects above and you have a windshield that needs to be replaced and likely bodily injury too.
Interested in other odd stories of windshield breaks? Check out our last blog about birds, mammals, and even reptiles. Sometimes these animals get just a little too curious or find their way onto a busy highway. We’ll also have blogs coming up about glass breakage from storms, sporting events, vandalism, and even road rage.
If you have any stories of your own, we’d love to hear them! Let us know in the comments below. And if you yourself have been a victim of broken auto glass, be sure to have the windshield professionally repaired or replaced at a reputable glass shop.
Using professional auto glass providers is especially important if there was any damage to the car’s body surrounding the windshield. They will be able to determine whether any bodywork must be performed to ensure a safe replacement. Use Glass.com to easily find a reliable glass replacement shop near you. Compare price quotes from different shops and book your job right from our website- no hassle, no commitments!
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