Broken windshields: Arizona leads the nation in glass repair

How many times has it happened to you, driving along, usually on the freeway and you hear a large crack?

A rock has just hit your windshield, you're certainly not alone, and Arizona is leading the nation in auto glass repairs.

Driving in Arizona is dangerous business, sometimes it feels like you're driving through an asteroid belt. Rocks are almost impossible to avoid.

So why so many windshield repairs? 

"Gravel is everywhere in the roadway, a lot of construction all over the place, so it's not just rocks in the roadway, there's a lot of other debris in the roadway," said Monte Overton.

Overton of T&S Auto Glass has seen it all.

"Probably the worst thing I've seen is a big piece of pipe," said Overton.

It could have killed the driver.

If you think that stuff happens a lot here, you're right. State Farm says broken windshield claims are up just 1%, while in Arizona the claims have shot up 27%.

"On the average I have 2-3 a day," said State Farm agent Dennis Mueller.

Mueller is a busy man, he hears frustration from drivers, and one customer who has maybe set a record for windshield replacements.

"10-12 in the last 3-4 years," said Mueller.

Because we have such a problem here, Arizona is one of six states with free windshield replacement laws, otherwise a new windshield could set you back anywhere from $200 to $500, more if you drive an expensive car.

And there is a season for this.

"June, July, and August, it's the heat, really when the vehicle are sitting out in the sun sometimes a tiny chip, and as the windshield heats up that creates expansion in the glass, and the stress causes it to fracture," said Overton.

And once a crack obstructs a driver's view, by law you have to replace it.

There there is agreement that one stretch of freeway in the Valley has led to a spike in windshield claims, so what is the offender?

"The 101 over in the east valley," said Mueller.  

"I had customers everyday calling me and saying 101, 101, 101," said Overton.

And it's not just road construction, the decorative gravel that lines our miles of freeway. It may look nice, but anytime a car goes off into it or pull out from it, it kicks gravel back onto the roadway that will eventually get thrown up into someone's windshield.

So business is good would be an understatement? "Yeah, business has been great, it really has," said Overton.

You may wonder why the glass always seems to crack, but few things ever penetrate it. That's part of the safety features built into windshields. A windshield is actually two pieces of glass and sandwiched in between is a thin sheet of extremely strong plastic.

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