What Are Windshield Requirements in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts may be the sixth smallest state in the USA in terms of square miles. However with our large population, our drivers spend considerable time commuting to and from work, visiting friends and family, and doing errands. Obviously the more time a person spends on the road, the greater the chances of experiencing vehicle damage.  Windshield damage is one of the more common types of damage that all MA drivers face.  And in winter months, the occasions that can cause windshield damage increase dramatically.

Here’s some food for thought and some clarification on so-called “Windshield Laws”.

Windshield Requirements

Your windshield is one of your first lines of defense from injury from road debris and flying projectiles. That’s why MA law requires the following:

1. All windshields must be made out of safety glass.  That is glass that has been treated or combined with other materials to make it less likely to shatter and result in flying glass.

2. All vehicles must have working (not worn) windshield wipers to remove rain and snow in order to pass inspection. 

3. All vehicles need a working windshield washer to pass inspection.

4. No stickers, posters, signs are permitted that obstruct the driver’s view or vision.

5. Any vehicles that have “window treatments” such as louvers must have outside mirrors that provide a clear view of the road.

6. Windshields can only have non-reflective tints along the top six inches of the windshield. The remaining windows can be tinted provided they allow 35% of available light to pass through.

7. Windshields cannot have chips that are larger than a quarter or that interfere with the operation of the wipers.  NO chips or cracks are permitted on the driver’s side of the windshield and ticketing police officers have discretion to decide whether any cracks, chips or area of damage hinder the driver’s view.  Damage to side windows that obscure the driver’s view at intersections are also prohibited. The police can stop you and insist that the car be towed as well as ticket you for operating an unsafe vehicle.

Source: yourmechanic.com

What About Clearing Snow from Vehicles?

In the interests of safety for all drivers, the State and local police have considerable discretion in deciding what is “safe” or “unsafe” when it comes to snow removal and obstructions to the driver’s view. So “violations” can be very costly… from $40 to $200.

This situation, posted by the Bedford N.H. Police online, is one of everyone’s winter driving nightmares. If you are a parent of a young driver, this post will give you more gray hair! Would he or she panic and lose control of the vehicle resulting in a crash? So, you’d think there would be a law requiring all vehicles, especially box trucks and tractor-trailers, to clear the ice and snow from the roofs of their vehicles before taking to the highways.

THERE IS NO LAW in Massachusetts that specifically addresses clearing snow and ice from vehicles before you drive.  HOWEVER, the police have wide discretion to use other MA driving safety laws to protect drivers.  Commonly, they cite a law (Chapter 85, Section 36) which covers “unsecured loads”  and will result in a $200 ticket if you fail to clear snow and ice from your vehicle.  And if you cause an accident and damage other vehicles, you can be criminally charged for reckless operation of a motor vehicle (Chapter 90, Section 24).  This can result in arrest, fines and jail time. And it guarantees civil liability. 

The saying goes that “common sense isn’t always common.” Let’s say you’re running late for work. Is it really worth the extra time it takes to completely clear your vehicle to take these risks? And isn’t it also worth the effort to give box trucks and semis a wide berth on the highway and stay back extra car lengths when you see they haven’t cleared their roofs?  In addition, it pays to have a conversation with your young drivers on what to do in the event of flying debris hitting the windshield. 

Sources: masslive.comboston.cbslocal.com

This car was stopped and ticketed by State Trooper Dustin Fitch who posted it on social media to remind drivers that police are watching and will ticket drivers.

What To Do If Your Windshield Is Damaged

In the interest of your own safety, you want to get your windshield repaired or replaced as soon as possible.  Some small chips can be repaired with a resin kit that fills the chip in before it becomes a crack.  However once a crack occurs, the windshield must be replaced because its integrity is compromised. 

There is not a statute in MA that requires your insurance company to waive your glass deductible.  Before 2008, most insurance companies doing business in Massachusetts set the glass deductible to zero. Full replacement was covered 100%. Now companies are required to offer full glass replacement with either a zero deductible or a $100 deductible option. Deductibles are a way for companies to lower premiums.  So look at your policy carefully to see which option you have. And if you want a zero glass deductible, you are entitled to it at a relatively small cost. 

Glass damage is typically covered as part of your Comprehensive coverage, that insures for damage to your vehicle from things like flying debris, fire, vandalism, or falling tree limbs. However, because Massachusetts is unique in requiring glass coverage be provided to all policyholders, you may be able to get it through your liability or collision insurance if you aren’t carrying Comprehensive. 

There are now mobile services that will come to your home or workplace to replace your windshield. These are really convenient services.  If you file an auto insurance claim for glass, your agent is permitted to recommend licensed and approved glass repair shops.  However, as of !!/1/12, you can’t be required to use your insurer’s preferred glass replacement company. However, using their recommended shop means that they will stand behind the repair. Be aware that MA law requires the use of OEM safety glass based on the model year and vehicle mileage.  Source: massagent.com 

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your glass coverage or just want a review of your vehicle policies, give us a call.  By reviewing your entire situation, we may be able to find the same or better coverage for the same or lower cost by using the various combination discounts that our companies offer. Contact our office to schedule a convenient, comprehensive insurance review!

When it comes to insuring your family’s home, vehicles, possessions and lifestyle, we take our responsibility to keep you properly protected very seriously.  The trust you placed in us when you chose the Keefe Insurance Agency means you count on us to keep you informed of things you can do to avoid potential claims.

We are always available during business hours to answer your questions or address your concerns. Stop by or call us at 508-528-3310 or toll-free at 888-528-3310. There is also additional information available 24/7 on our web site for your convenience.


Bonus! Did You Know?

Why do I need OEM safety glass?

Your windshield is your first line of defense in the event of an accident.  Automotive glass comes in two types: laminated glass for the windshield and tempered glass for the side and back windows.  Manufacturers insert a thin layer of PVB film between two layers of glass and fuse them together using heat and pressure to make your windshield. 

In the event of an accident, your windows keep you inside the vehicle, shield you from flying glass shards, retain the roof’s rigidity in a rollover, and allow the side air bag to protect your passenger when deployed.

Source: auto.howstuffworks.com

How does the laminated glass work with the air bag in an accident?

Driver’s side air-bags deploy straight back from the steering wheel and protect the driver from slamming into the wheel.  The passenger side air-bags bounce off the windshield toward the passenger to keep the person from being ejected through the windshield. An airbag deploys at 1/30th of a second and can withstand 2000 pounds of force.  Today’s windshields not only have to absorb the impact from outside the windshield, but also the speed and force of the airbag to protect the passenger during a crash. 

Can I shop around and use whoever I want to replace my windshield?

As of November 2012, you can choose who you’d like. HOWEVER, it must be a registered, licensed motor glass vehicle repair shop in MA that is compliant with all state, local and federal regulations including tax ids and filings. 

All insurance companies are required by MA law to provide full glass replacement as part of their policy.  The only difference is you either choose zero glass deductible or a $100 glass deductible. (This deductible is totally separate from your usual $300, $500 or $1000 deductible.)  So the most you should have to pay out of pocket is $100, unless you choose NOT to use a registered shop OR have an older model vehicle (See next question.) 

What does MA law say about glass material options?

Massachusetts has strict laws regarding the type of glass that can be used for windshield replacement. 

If your vehicle is a 2004 model year or newer and has less than 20,000 miles, only OEM glass can be used.  This is also the case if your car is 2003 or newer but has less than 15,000 miles. Otherwise, your insurance company may choose to only pay for used or aftermarket auto glass when you file your claim.

If your vehicle is an older model or has more miles, you can still request the use of OEM glass.  However, you may have to pay the difference in the cost.  If you also have the $100 deductible, you will have to pay that as well.

I read that some car companies are installing laminated glass for all windows. Is this a safer option for a new car?

Not necessarily. 

Some manufacturers, like GM and BMW, are using it on larger or more expensive cars and passenger vans to protect passengers from flying out the back window and to deter theft through the side windows.

That’s the upside.  On the downside, if you have laminated glass throughout the vehicle, you won’t be able to make an emergency exit from the vehicle quickly by breaking the glass without help. Due to its strength, it takes 10 times longer to break through than standard tempered glass, making it more difficult for an injured or weakened passenger to make an escape.

Can the police force you to take your vehicle off the road if they decide it’s not safe?

Yes they can. If they determine that the driver’s view of the road is impaired by the condition of the windshield, they can order you off the road. In that case, your vehicle will have to be towed.

REMINDER: Be careful when driving under bridges and underpasses when the snow plows are on the roads during storms and their aftermath.  If the bridge doesn’t have a snow fence along the sides to catch flying snow, the falling snow from the plow could break your windshield or damage your wipers.


It is understood that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal or other expert advice is required, the services of a professional should be sought. Insurance information is general in nature; for specific coverage provisions, renewal and contractural provisions, consult your policy.

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