Is it illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen?
Yes, it's illegal and, depending on where the crack is and how deep the crack is, the police can pick you up for having a windscreen that's defective.
There are actually several reasons why it is illegal to drive with a cracked or smashed windscreen, starting with the crack potentially obscuring your vision.
If you’re in a couple of tonnes of metal hurtling down the road at 60km/h you’re travelling at over 16 metres per-second. And if you can’t see clearly that dramatically increases the risk of you not seeing an obstacle, person or vehicle in your way.
Refractions off the cracked edge of the glass can shine into your eyes, or the distortion from the crack could hide small children, low profile vehicles, or any sort of obstacle in the road, leaving you to run into it at speed.
Secondly, modern windshields are made from two or more layers of glass made with all manner of special chemicals and engineering to not only protect you from the elements but add structural rigidity to your vehicle. With a crack in that glass the rigidity of the screen is compromised, which could potentially affect your vehicle in a rollover crash.
If you’re unsure whether your windscreen is damaged to the point of not being in roadworthy status, get it checked
If your windshield has cracked through more than one layer of glass, has hairline cracks up to 30mm long, cracks from the edge of the windscreen up to 75mm long, or bullseye cracks (or chips) up to 16mm in diameter, then your windscreen is unroadworthy. There are other issues which can cause your vehicle to be defected by the police, or fail a roadworthiness test.
Tinting the screen is illegal in all states of Australia, so be wary of any car with a tinted front screen. Abrasions (like stone chips or sand damage) that impact the vision as tested by a member of the police or qualified vehicle inspector could also earn you a fail if the inspector or policeman finds that it would be unsafe to drive the car with the windscreen as it is.
If you’re unsure whether your windscreen is damaged to the point of not being in roadworthy status, get it checked by an authorised roadworthy inspection station in your area.
The vehicle standard for NSW’s annual registration roadworthiness inspections can be found here, for those interested.
This article is not intended as legal advice. You should check with your local road authority to verify the information written here is suitable to your situation before driving in this manner.