Crime as a Threat to Windscreen and Vehicle Occupant Safety

The Windscreen and CrimeOn the Arrive Alive website, we find several pages dedicated to the importance of windscreen safety. It is important to recognize that windscreens are specifically designed to add strength to your vehicle - your windscreen contributes up to 30% of the total strength of your vehicle.

Should your vehicle be involved in an accident, the windscreen will help prevent the roof from collapsing or caving.  It will also protect you should you be in a front-end collision.

In this section, we would like to take a closer look at threats to the safety of your windscreen, and specifically focus on the non-accidental damages and the impact of crime!

Accidental Damage

Most of the damage to windscreens is chips from small stones and debris deflected from passing vehicles and in areas of road construction. It is estimated that more than 90% of windscreen claims result from stone damage.

It is accepted that debris on the roads like stones, rocks and grit will always have a direct influence on the number of windscreen claims. The more debris found on roads, the more windscreen replacements you can expect.

Significant accidental damage could also be because of forces of nature such as hail, falling tree branches etc. Road crashes and collisions could also be regarded as “Accidental Damages”.

Crime as a Threat to Windscreen Safety

Sadly, crime has become a significant threat to road safety in South Africa. There are numerous criminal activities aimed at drivers, vehicle occupants and their belongings. The windscreen is a safety shield from these criminals and something they seek to breach!

The direct impact of criminality

The direct impact of criminality

Rock and Stone Throwing from Cross-Over Bridges

Some of the most horrific incidents in recent years have been those of criminals throwing rocks and boulders from bridges onto unsuspecting motorists and truck drivers. This is done with the intent to have these vehicles crash, leaving the victims defenceless to robbery.

There is little that motorists can do apart from remaining alert to the presence of people standing on the bridges and changing lanes shortly before a bridge.

Stone Throwing during Protests and Civil Unrest

Many road users have found themselves caught up in civil unrest and political or service delivery protests. These protestors sometimes resort to violence and the hurling of objects towards vehicles in the vicinity. The best advice for drivers is to avoid these areas of conflict where possible. 


This criminal act is usually characterised by smashing through some sort of barrier (e.g. vehicle window) while the car is stationary at traffic lights or stuck in slow-moving traffic and grabbing something of value (e.g. jackets, handbags, laptops, etc).

A smash-and-grab usually plays on the element of speed and surprise -The violent smashing of the window at the passenger side places the motorist in a few moments of silent paralysis - just enough to get hold of the valuables and flee the scene!

Motorists are advised to remain alert and to hide valuables away from the sight and reach of criminals. It is also suggested that vehicle owners consider safety film as another layer of protection.

Indirect impact of criminality

Indirect impact of criminality

Pedestrian Crashes

In South Africa, 35-40% of all road fatalities are pedestrian deaths. Sadly, many of these pedestrians are crossing roads illegally or do so when intoxicated. The point of impact of the head area of the pedestrians is usually directly onto the windscreen of the vehicle.

Drivers are cautioned to remain alert and slow down in areas of pedestrian activity. Extra caution is required when driving at night and in the rain.

Damage from loads that are not safely secured

Section 49 of the National Road Traffic Act makes it the operator's responsibility to ensure he conducts his business safely. Regulation 246 governs how loads should be transported. It is required that a load must be safely contained within the body of a vehicle or securely fastened to the vehicle.

We have found significant damage to vehicles, and windscreens as well as horrific injuries to vehicle occupants where loads have been dislodged from trucks and other goods vehicles.

Drivers are advised to keep a safe following distance of 3 seconds and to increase that distance when following trucks. This might give them the time and space to respond swiftly in an emergency.

Animals and Wildlife

Fences are often stolen especially in rural areas & next to informal settlements, creating increased risks of animals entering and crossing roads. Whereas wildlife such as kudus crashing into vehicles is purely accidental, the collisions with roaming cattle on our roads can be regarded as an indirect impact of criminality.

We urge drivers to remain alert to their surroundings and the potential threat of animal activity.

To conclude

To conclude

The windscreen is an important shield against road debris and other flying objects from penetrating through the glass. In the unfortunate event that the windscreen is damaged or cracked, an effectively installed and quality windscreen might not break into large shards of glass that will pose a safety threat to you or any of your passengers inside the vehicle.

We urge road users to follow the below links for more information on how to protect themselves on the roads.

Also View

Road Safety and Your Windscreen

Safe Driving and Preventing Smash-And-Grab

Safe Driving in Areas of Crime, Protests and Civil Unrest

Crime as a Threat to Road Safety

Preventing crashes into animals and wildlife

Safely securing Loads during Transport