Windshield damage is all too common in our state. Windshield laws in Alaska establish requirements for the type of windshield a vehicle must have as well as other key safety features, such as windshield wipers.
Why is a cracked windshield so dangerous?
Alaska uses gravel (rather than sand or salt) on the roadways to provide traction in snow and ice. So, when you go out for a drive, taking a rock or two to the windshield is a common occurrence.
A cracked or broken windshield can restrict your field of view behind the wheel. Even a small, star-shaped crack can distract you or prevent you from seeing critical details while driving.
In Alaska, however, the dangers associated with a damaged windshield go beyond visibility limits. Temperature extremes can quickly turn a small nick into a major crack. And, in a matter of days, the intensity of the summer sun can cause auto glass to discolor and darken.
For this reason, Alaska has specific windshield requirements for all car manufacturers.
What are the windshield requirements in Alaska?
If you drive an enclosed vehicle in Alaska, you must have a windshield in place. Although having a cracked or chipped windshield is not illegal in Alaska, you must fix it immediately if the crack obstructs your view. In addition to having a windshield free of view-obstructing cracks, you must also have:
Windshield laws in Alaska also require that vehicles have working defrosters. Defrosters must be capable of blowing hot air onto both the driver’s side and passenger side of the vehicle.
Safety Glass Requirements
In Alaska, all vehicles manufactured after 1968 must have windshields made of safety glass to prevent shattering upon impact.
Windshield Wiper Requirements
If you have a windshield in your vehicle, Alaska laws require that you have operable automatic windshield wipers.
Wipers must be controllable by the driver and capable of removing rain, snow, and other weather runoff. Both the driver’s side and passenger side of the vehicle must have working wipers. This helps ensure that you have the best possible visibility.
In our state, the weather regularly compromises visibility. Rain, snow, and extra hours of darkness hinder drivers’ ability to see on the road. Now, add in the potential of road hazards — moose, for example — and visibility becomes even more imperative for safety.
What is the proper way to maintain windshield wipers?
The most important thing you can do to maintain your wipers is to inspect them regularly — at least once a month, or more during the winter months. And, each time you gas up your vehicle, take a moment to clean the rubber components of both wiper blades.
Change your wiper blades at least once very six months, preferably more often during the winter. Wiper blades do not wear out from use; they degrade as the result of exposure to harsh weather conditions and ultraviolet light from the sun.
Choose high-quality wiper blade replacements. They may cost a little more upfront; however, the blades will last longer and do a better job of improving your visibility. It is worth a few extra dollars to ensure your safety.
You can choose wiper blades that include a Teflon coating or you can apply an aftermarket protective coating to the rubber strips every month or two, to slow down the normal degradation and to keep snow and ice from sticking to the blades. For the Alaska climate, many drivers swear by the beam blade design, thanks to their superior performance in cold climates and harsh weather.
To extend the life of your wipers and blades, never use them to remove ice from the windshield. Instead, use your ice scraper and brush to do the job. Do not attempt to peel the blades away from a frozen windshield. Instead, wait until the defroster thaws them.
We suggest you give yourself a few minutes before you need to head out to thaw your windshield and get rid of the snow and ice that accumulates.
Finally, consider adding a coat of water repellant to your windshield periodically. Although these products will never replace windshield wipers, they can help the wipers do a better job of keeping your windshield clear.
Kelley & Canterbury LLC: Your Anchorage Car Accident Attorneys
The attorneys of Kelley & Canterbury LLC are committed to the safety and well-being of our clients and all of Alaska’s residents and visitors. Taking steps to improve your vehicle’s safety and visibility will help keep you safe behind the wheel. But, no matter how careful you may be, you cannot always avoid accidents on the road.
Contact us today if you would like to speak with an Anchorage accident lawyer: 907-276-8185.