Dirty Windows and How They Can Increase Your Risk of a Crash
Drivers have a duty to maintain their vehicles and keep them in safe operating condition. This legal duty includes keeping your windows clean. As trivial as this might sound, driving with dirty windows is a crash risk. When your windows are covered with dust, pollen, grime, bugs and other dirt, you can miss road signs, pavement markings and even other vehicles.
Lynch Law discusses the risks of driving with dirty windows, including liability if doing so contributes to a crash.
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How Can Dirty Windows Increase the Risk of a Crash?
Driving with dirty windows may seem a less obvious hazard, but when you are behind the wheel, your legal duty is to be focused on the road. This is not just about paying attention to speed, staying in your lane and following traffic laws. It is also to watch for dangerous objects, pedestrians, motorcyclists and other vehicles in the road. If your visibility is reduced because of dirt, snow or other grime on your windshield and other windows, the law may consider this a failure of your legal duty. It is also quite risky.
The most obvious problem with dirty windows is impaired visibility. When your windows are covered in dirt, dust and other grime, your ability to see clearly is compromised. This is a hazard, especially in bad weather conditions, such as heavy rain, fog and snowfall where visibility is already reduced. Dirty windows can make it difficult to spot pedestrians, cyclists, or other vehicles in your vicinity, increasing the likelihood of an accident.
Glare and Reflections
Dirty windows create glare and unwanted reflections. When sunlight or headlights from oncoming traffic hit a dirty windshield, it can scatter and refract light in unpredictable ways. This glare can be blinding and make it nearly impossible to see the road ahead, potentially leading to accidents. Similarly, reflections from dirty side windows can distract and disorient drivers, diverting their attention away from the road.
Reduced Reaction Time
Impaired visibility from dirty windows can result in reduced reaction time to a potential hazard. In critical situations where split-second decisions can mean the difference between safety and disaster, every fraction of a second counts. Dirty windows can delay your ability to perceive and respond to unexpected dangers. In turn, this could increase your chances of being involved in a rear-end collision, side-swipe or other crash. You may also be unable to avoid hitting an object, person or animal in the road.
Neglected Blind Spots
Dirty side and rear windows dangerously obscure your blind spots. Blind spots are the areas around your vehicle that you cannot see in your mirrors or through your windows. When these areas are covered in dirt or smudges, it is harder to detect nearby vehicles when changing lanes or merging onto highways. Failure to check or even see your blind spots properly could result in a crash.
Reduced Nighttime Visibility
Driving with dirty windows at night can be particularly treacherous. Headlights from oncoming traffic and streetlights can create a glare that is exacerbated by dirty windshields. At night there are two risks. First, you have decreased visibility, and second, it is harder to judge distances between your vehicle and others on the road. It is not surprising that many accidents occur at night. Dirty windows make these situations even riskier.
For wipers to be effective, they must be in good working condition. This means replacing worn or ineffective wipers. That said, some drivers might think that using windshield wipers can fully solve the problem of dirty windows. While wipers are essential for maintaining visibility during rain or snow, they are not a cure-all for dirty windows. In fact, using wipers on a dirty windshield may just end up spreading layers of dirt and grime around. Smeared dirt can make reduced visibility even worse. Properly cleaning your windows is the only way to ensure clear and unobstructed visibility.
What Are the Legal Consequences of Obstructed Windshields in New Jersey?
Aside from the obvious safety concerns, driving with dirty windows can also have legal repercussions. Many jurisdictions have laws that require drivers to maintain clear and unobstructed visibility from all windows. If you get pulled over and your windows are found to be excessively dirty, you could face fines and penalties.
In New Jersey, there are laws (NJ Rev Stat 39:3-74) about preventing your windshield from becoming unobstructed. This law even includes cleaning rain, snow and other moisture from the windshield. Under the law, drivers are also expected to have wipers in good working order to effectively clear their windshields while driving.
Drivers who fail to keep their windows, mirrors and windshields clean could end up being liable for a crash where visibility was a contributing factor.
How Windows Get Dangerously Dirty
Dirt, grime, bugs and even snow build up on car windshields, side windows and mirrors very easily. Even if you start off to work or on a road trip with a clean windshield, your car windows could become very dirty en route. You could end up driving through areas that throw dirt, dust and grime onto your windows. Bad weather may cause heavy amounts of rain, mud or snow to get thrown on your windshield. Other things that can cause dirt, dust and grime to quickly build up on your windows while driving include:
- Work zones that are throwing up a lot of dust into the air
- Rural areas where there are a lot of gnats and other bugs
- Trucks carrying cargo, such as sand, that throw off dust
- Driving in heavy downpours of rain
- Snow being thrown up by the road by other vehicles and hitting your windshield
- Day-to-day grime and dust that lands on your car windshield, side windows and even your exterior mirrors
How To Avoid a Crash Caused by Dirty Windows
There are a few simple steps to avoiding a crash caused by dirty windows, most of which are common sense, but include:
- Keeping your vehicle clean
- Wiping your side and back windows, windshield, and mirrors down before driving
- Making sure you have plenty of windshield cleaner fluid
- Replacing worn or ineffective windshield wipers
Call Our Trusted Law Firm For Legal Help After a Crash
Injured in a crash caused by another driver’s negligence? We strongly recommend seeking legal help as soon as your injuries are stabilized.
At Lynch Law Firm PC, we have been representing injured victims for decades. We have the experience, staff and resources to investigate your accident, gather evidence and fight for the compensation you need.
Not sure if you have a case? This is why we offer free consultations, and we also have staff available to take your call 24/7.
Call Lynch Law Firm, PC for legal help today. (800) 518-0508