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Why it Is Dangerous To Drive With a Dirty Windshield in Pennsylvania

dirty windshield being wiped clean

Dirty windshields not only look bad, but they are also a huge safety risk. Dirt, snow, dust, road debris and other materials that can stick to the windshield make it harder to see, affecting your reaction time. It could take you half a second longer to react to sudden obstacles or changes in the flow of traffic, but this could be enough of a delay to cause a crash.

Schmidt Kramer wants drivers to be aware of the risks of dirty windshields. In this blog, we explain the many ways Pennsylvania drivers’ windshields could be obstructed by debris or weather conditions, the dangers of driving with an unclear windshield, and state laws on keeping windshields clean.

If you were injured by a driver with an unclean windshield, he or she may be at fault for the collision. Our licensed Harrisburg auto accident lawyers are here to help you seek compensation for your damages, at no upfront cost.

Schedule your free consultation today to learn more. Call us at: (717) 727-2550.

Is it Illegal To Drive With a Dirty Windshield in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania law does not specify how often drivers need to clean their windshields. However, a law was passed in 2022 that requires drivers to take reasonable steps to remove ice or snow that accumulated on the hood, trunk and roof of the vehicle within 24 hours of when snow or ice stopped falling. Each violation of this section of the law comes with a $50 fine.

This section of the law also imposes fines between $200 and $1,500 each time snow or ice dislodges or falls off a moving vehicle and hits another vehicle or pedestrian, causing death or serious injury.

There is another section of Pennsylvania law that says every vehicle must have windshield wipers that can clean rain, snow or other moisture from the windshield. So, if you are driving with old or worn-down wiper blades that cannot remove snow or ice, you may be in violation of the law.

Your lawyer may be able to use these laws to establish that the at-fault driver owed you a duty of care, and that he or she breached that duty. This can help validate a liability claim against the other driver.

How Windshields and Windows Get Dirty

There are many things that can make a windshield dirty and harder to see through.

Environmental Factors

Car windshields can accumulate things like dust, pollen, bird droppings, tree sap and other airborne particles. These substances can build up over time and obscure drivers’ visibility. These substances can be hard to remove when they are allowed to sit there for an extended period.

Weather Conditions

Rain, snow and ice can leave streaks on your windshield, especially when they mix with dirt and other substances that were already present.

Lack of Maintenance

Cleaning your windshield quickly, such as with your windshield wiper fluid, is essential. Sometimes you may need to use a squeegee or get your car washed to fully clean the windshield so you can clearly see.

Road Grime

Vehicles can kick up mud, dirt and oily residue from roads, particularly after a rain or snowstorm. Drivers should clean their windshields as quickly as possible, as these substances can be difficult to clean if they are allowed to sit there.

Dangers of Driving With a Dirty Windshield

There are several reasons why it is a bad idea to continue driving with a dirty, grimy windshield.

  • Reduced visibility: Dirt, grime and debris can obscure road signs, traffic signals, pedestrians and bicyclists. This impairs your ability to react quickly to prevent a crash. This is particularly true at night or in winter weather.
  • Increased glare: Sunlight or headlights reflecting off a dirty windshield can create a blinding glare. This is particularly true during sunrise and sunset, as the sun is lower in the sky.
  • Distraction: A dirty windshield is distracting because you need to find clear spots to look through. You can also become fixated on clearing the windshield, taking your mind off driving.
  • Eye strain: Trying to see through marks and smudges can strain your eyes, taking your focus off the road. This can make it harder to quickly react to sudden hazards, like the car ahead of you suddenly slowing down or a pedestrian walking out onto the road.

Driving with a clean windshield is not just about how it looks, but it is also a critical step to ensure optimal visibility and reduce the possibility of accidents.

Tips on Keeping Your Windows and Windshield Clean

Drivers can take the steps below to keep their windshields clear and easy to see through. It is important to note that unexpected things can happen on the road. The steps you take before getting out on the road can go a long way to lowering your risk of impaired visibility.

  • Wash your car regularly: Try to get into the habit of regularly cleaning the inside and outside of your windshield. Regular cleaning can help reduce light refraction that can cause glare.
  • Replace old wiper blades: Drivers should replace their wiper blades every six to 12 months or when they notice signs of wear. Watch for streaks or areas that do not get cleared when you use your wipers. This is a common sign it is time to change out the blades.
  • Make sure you have windshield wiper fluid: Check that your windshield wiper reservoir tank before you go out on the road. You will need to use different kinds of wiper fluid in the spring and summer compared to the winter. Fluid designed for winter can prevent freezing and do a better job clearing away slush and road salt.
  • Park in a garage or under cover: Whenever possible, park your vehicle in a garage or under cover. This is one way you can help to reduce your vehicle’s exposure to elements like bird droppings, tree sap and pollen.

Keeping your windshield clean may not seem like that big of a deal. However, it can have a huge impact on your safety and the safety of other drivers.

Contact Schmidt Kramer To Discuss Post-Crash Legal Options

If you were injured in an accident caused by impaired visibility, our experienced lawyers may be able to help you. We have decades of experience managing car crash cases, and we are committed to providing comprehensive legal help throughout the legal process.

We have a contingency fee policy, which means no upfront costs. The initial legal consultation is also free of charge.

Give us a call today. We help crash victims seek justice and compensation. Phone: (717) 727-2550.