Not Texting is a Start, but There’s More to Safe Driving

Many people have a limited definition of “distracted driving”: They think it only means texting behind the wheel.

There’s good reason for that, because texting requires visual, manual and cognitive attention – the same attention required for safe driving. But although texting is perhaps the most dangerous distraction, there are many others that can impact how you drive, whether you realize it or not. And they can be just as deadly.

How deadly? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2014 more than 400,000 people were injured in crashes caused by distracted drivers – with more than 3,000 killed.

Here are just a few of the things that can distract drivers on the road:

  • Talking on the phone, even with a hands-free device.
  • Eating or drinking.
  • Talking to passengers.
  • Grooming (yes, there really are people who apply makeup or shave on their way to work).
  • Reading, including maps.
  • Adjusting the stereo.

Younger drivers are the most distracted of all – according to the government’s website, people in their 20s make up 38% of drivers who were using cell phones before a fatal crash, and 10% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were distracted, too.

With distractions more prevalent than ever – more than 150 billion text messages are sent in the U.S. every month, for example – how can you, and those you love, be safer behind the wheel? Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t use the phone: This includes texting as well as talking, unless it’s an emergency. Even hands-free conversations can take your attention off the road.
  • Eat before you leave, or after you get there: Scarfing down that burger with one hand on the wheel means your focus is divided – and you probably don’t have as much control over your car as you should. Bonus benefit: Keeping your meals and your driving separate means you’re much less likely to get ketchup on your pants.
  • Know where you’re going: Nobody likes to be lost. But messing around with your car’s GPS (or the maps app on your smartphone) while you’re moving can lead to something you’ll hate even more – an accident.
  • Talk to your family about safe driving: Having a conversation with your spouse as they’re driving home? That’s a perfect opportunity to say, “I’ll let you focus on the road; we can talk when you get here.” And if you have young drivers in the household, be sure to have a conversation about their phones and other potential issues, such as their passengers – a key distraction for teens.
  • Watch for other distracted drivers: Just because you aren’t distracted doesn’t mean that other drivers are focused on safe driving. Stay in control and be vigilant – you’ll be ready to react when someone else makes the wrong move.

Distracted driving isn’t just “one of those things” that happens, like a tire blowout or mechanical failure that isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s 100% preventable – and by committing to avoiding distractions while you drive, you’ll help make the road safer for everyone.

We’ve all been driving along, minding our own business when a rock the size of a melon comes flying like a targeted asteroid and smacks right into your windshield, leaving a chip or crack in your car’s visor and ruining your day.

In reality, that rock probably wasn’t all that big, but driving at speed certainly makes the scene more dramatic. What’s not to be taken lightly is that mark on your windshield. Cracks and chips in your window may not seem like a big deal, but they impact your visibility and are a safety hazard.

If you’re left with a serious imperfection on your windshield, it may be tempting to just ignore it or look around it to save time and money, but leaving the crack or chip and driving around with it is not an option.

“Cracks and chips often grow longer or wider if not repaired or replaced,” explains Debra Levy, president of the Auto Glass Safety Council (AGSC). Not only that, but it’s also unsafe.

“The [cracked] glass may be compromised and the windshield is part of the safety system of the vehicle,” she explains.

Can it be fixed?


There are two main solutions to dealing with a broken windshield. You can either fill a crack if it’s small enough, or you can replace the whole windshield. The latter is the more expensive option, while the former is for smaller imperfections. It’s like dealing with serious body damage or chipped paint, but your windshield is much more important in terms of your safety than your car’s paint is.

“Whether or not a break can be repaired, rather than replacing the glass, depends on a number of factors including type of break, location of break and amount of time the glass has been broken,” Levy says. But what’s important is that it gets fixed soon, as Levy explained that cracks and chips can grow longer or wider if not repaired or replaced.

The decision to repair a crack or chip can be easy to make depending on the size of it.

“The Repair of Laminated Auto Glass Standard allows repair of cracks 14 inches or less,” she explains, so cracks that are larger than that will need a complete replacement of glass. Obviously, the ability to repair such big cracks or chips is dependent on the skills of the auto glass technician you’re using. Most one or two inch chips are commonly dealt with, but again, it depends on what your tech says is possible.

“Certain insurers also limit the length of damage they will pay for.” That should help the decision.

Some quick research shows that certain types of cracks and chips just can’t be repaired. For example, if the damage extends from the exterior pane of glass and penetrates the interior, it’s too deep to be repaired. Chips on corners or tight spots are often too difficult to repair too, so count those out. If a chip or crack has spread after the initial damage, that’s a clear sign the glass needs to be replaced. Also take into consideration things like temperature sensors, radio antennaes and other high-tech goodies that can be embedded into your windshield that can affect whether the glass can be repaired and increase the cost of a replacement.

What’s involved with fixing or replacing a windshield?

A crack or chip repair takes about 30 to 40 minutes and is performed by injecting a clear resin into it. When it hardens, the resin helps restore the integrity and smooth look of the glass. The resin is then polished and cured by UV light. If done properly, the chip or crack won’t be able to spread any further.

Replacing a glass is a bit more of an involved process. After prepping the body of the car to prevent any damage, technicians will remove the windshield from the car. The seals and adhesives are also removed, and a primer is used on the bare frame, so a new glue and sealant can applied for the replacement glass. The new windshield is then fitted and bonded to the car. After the glass is fitted, most auto shops encourage a 60-minute wait time so that the windshield is properly attached to the car.


Like dealing with an independent mechanic, one of the biggest worries with autoglass repair is having a trustworthy technician. Fortunately, the ASGC has a website where you can find certified and qualified technicians in your area. “[To] choose a company that does the work properly, just go to the AGSC site and put in your ZIP code.” says Levy. A handy search tool, these companies should be able to help you feel satisfied with your decision to fix or replace your windshield, and understand the importance of doing so.

Reprinted with permission from