Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards Summary
"No repair facility shall render a safety device inoperative unless it reasonably believes that the vehicle will not be used while the safety device is inoperative." This is why Safe Drive Away Times are so important. SDATs inform installers of when the safety device - in this case, the windshield - can be reasonably believed to be operative. Thus, SDATs define when the applicable federal standards are met.

(49 CFR 571.208) Occupant Crash Protection
Specifies performance requirements for the protection of vehicle occupants in crashes (i.e. proper deployment of passenger airbags).

(49 CFR 571.212) Windshield Mounting
Establishes standards for windshield retention requirements for motor vehicles during crashes. 50% of passive restraints (airbags), 75% for non-passive systems (seat belts).

(49 CFR 571.216) Roof Crush Resistance
Establishes passenger compartment roof strength requirements to reduce death and injury due to roof crushing in roll over accidents. Up to 60% of roof strength is attributable to a properly bonded windshield.

(49 CFR 571.219) Windshield Zone Intrusion
Specifies that the windshield will stay in place and that auto body parts and debris shall not protrude into the passenger compartment.

*Above excerpts were collected from the 1994 Code of Federal Regulations (Title 49, Parts 400-999) and do NOT fully represent each standard. To obtain a copy of the CFR, please contact the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. Telephone: 202-512-1800

More On Safety

When most of us think of our windshield, the first thing we think of is keeping the bugs out of our face as we drive down the street. That was, of course, why the first windshield was invented.

Today, however, your windshield has a direct role in your safety.

Most car makers have designed their passenger side airbags to use the windshield as a backboard. In other words, when the airbag literally explodes at over 200 mph, it first bounces off the glass to absorb the initial shock. This may shatter the windshield but as long as the windshield stays in place it is still serving its intended purpose. A windshield that dislodges from the body of the vehicle will not provide the necessary support to allow the airbag to deploy properly, and the airbag will not do its lifesaving work. [FMVSS 49 CFR 571.208]

A dislodged windshield creates other problems as well. In an accident in which the vehicle rolls over, the strength of the front of the passenger compartment depends primarily upon the windshield. As much as 60% of roof strength is lost if the glass separates from the vehicle body resulting in a crushed roof. [FMVSS 49 CFR 571.216]

Another area that Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards affect is containment. If you are in a crash, it is important that debris from outside the vehicle not enter the passenger compartment and that passengers be kept inside the vehicle. Passengers are always safer if they can be kept inside. A windshield that dislodges will not keep debris out, or passengers in, the vehicle. [FMVSS 49 CFR 571.219]

The common thread to each of these situations is "windshield retention". The quality of the adhesives, how closely and accurately the installation procedure is followed, and the training of the installer will dictate how well the windshield is retained in a crash situation. In the earliest days windshields were kept in place mechanically by screws, frames, and fasteners. Later adhesives such as butyl and silicone were used. Today’s automotive designs require the use of urethane. Why urethane? Not only does it seal the vehicle from the elements (rain, etc.) but it is 90 times stronger than butyl. When you are in a crash, you need that strength to hold the windshield in place and protect you as in the examples above.

It is important to remind you that not all urethane is the same. There are one and two part systems, and of course there are various brands. At Quality Glass Service we use Essex urethane, the brand used by all domestic original equipment manufacturers (OEM). The ONLY brand that has actually been crash tested on every model they make.

At Quality Glass we believe a safe installation requires more than just good urethane. There is an installation “process” specified by manufacturers that must be meticulously followed to assure quality and safety. This includes preparation of the glass, the body of the vehicle, and use of the proper priming materials. These materials have a limited shelf life, especially after being opened. At Quality Glass great care is taken to use the right primers with the right urethane at the right time. We believe your safety is not just valuable, it's priceless!

The final piece in the safety puzzle is training. Glass installers at many glass shops are given minimal training, in some cases as little as 2 weeks, and then sent out to install your windshield. Anyone with a little mechanical aptitude can learn to install a windshield in a short period of time. But, to do the job properly and safely requires a clear understanding the safety issues involved, as well as many hours of hands-on experience. At Quality Glass, our technicians are given extensive internal training by seasoned veterans in the industry, training by outside training sources in both the classroom and the shop, training by Essex personnel in the proper use of their urethanes, and training in proper handling of airbags and other parts of the vehicle’s safety system by professionals from the airbag industry. Training at Quality Glass is an ongoing, annual process because we believe your safety is our first priority.

For comments or questions about your safety, please contact us.