The Development of Auto Glass

Modern windshields can be traced back to a fortunate accident made by French chemist Edouard Benedictus, in 1903. One day in his lab, the chemist dropped a flask filled with collodion. He observed that while the flask broke, it did not shatter. Benedictus would later realize he had discovered shatter proof glass. This would lay the groundwork for shatter-proof safety auto glass. Laminated glass would be used for windshields in the 1920s.

In the early 1900s, however, windshields weren’t being used in any automobiles. Windshields were luxury accessories that were typically considered an option for your car. Even though windshields at this time cost more for the driver, they were not very safe or helpful for drivers. They kept dirt and dust out of the driver’s eyes, but they would easily shatter if damaged. This would cause more harm than good if driver and passenger were covered in glass after contact with a projectile.

Over time, auto manufacturers began to realize the necessity for stronger windshields and other forms of auto glass, like side windows and back windshields. Henry Ford began producing his own auto glass at his factories, and eventually utilized laminated auto glass for his windshields. While the laminated windshield solved the problem of glass shattering in the driver’s face, it still was not strong enough to protect against heavy projectiles or offer protection in collisions. Manufacturers invested in the development of safety glass and innovations like using a thin layer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) between sheets of glass helped strengthen windshields.

Around this time, auto manufacturers also began using tempered glass for side windows and back windshields. Tempered glass helped strengthen the overall structural integrity of the automobile.

Eventually, the NHTSA would make windshields and auto glass a legal requirement for all automobiles. They would also define the standards for windshield mounting, transparency, and strength.

The Risks of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents in the United States. Distracted driving includes the texting and driving and using your phone for other purposes while driving, along with other activities such as attending to a child or eating. While texting and driving is a serious issue in itself, “distracted driving” also recognizes that many accidents are caused by cell phone usage that is not necessarily texting, such as the use of social media and other apps.

The risks and dangers of distracted driving are severe. The NHTSA estimates that distracted driving results in 3,000 fatalities every year. In 2012, one in every 10 accident was caused by distraction. Researchers have found that just talking on a cell phone while driving quadruples the chance of getting into a motor accident. Checking your cell phone for five seconds while driving (about the time it takes to read a text message) would result in traveling 300 feet without looking at the road, if driving at highway speeds. Teenage drivers are the biggest offenders, with 11 percent of teens in accidents admitting they were driving distracted. However, people of all ages have been found to participate in distracted driving.

The dangers of distracted driving should not be underestimated. They are a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents in the U.S., yet many drivers do not take the risks seriously. Lead by example while behind the wheel and keep your cellphone put away at all times while driving.