Windshield replacement costs US vehicle owners millions of dollars annuallymdashGetty ImagesBill Pugliano

Windshield replacement costs U.S. vehicle owners millions of dollars annually.—Getty Images/Bill Pugliano

Splat! Whap! And there goes another $300 windshield

It increasingly dawns on me that instead of trying to squirrel away a few bucks in an account that pays practically zilch interest — and actually costs me money by the time I pay taxes on the almost zilch in interest — I should’ve invested in a windshield replacement business.

A while back, driving behind an 18-wheeler hauling scrap metal, WHAP!, something flew off the trailer, hit my  windshield, and within seconds a crack had snaked halfway across the width of the glass. Within a month it had gone three-fourths of the way horizontally, made a fishhook upward, then started back the other way.

This is the fourth windshield that has been zapped in as many years — three on the car before this one. And there were others on other cars before that. At $300 or so per pop, it becomes downright annoying. And since the deductible on most car insurance is now $500 or more, there’s no help from the “like-a-good-neighbor” or “you’re-in-good-hands” folks.

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For those of us who drive a lot, the impression is that Mississippi has more gravel trucks and assorted other construction-type trucks per mile of highway than any other state, and they all seem to hurl up rocks or other glass-shattering missiles.

It is a mystery to me why today’s windshields crack so easily. Once upon a time, a rock hitting a windshield may have made a nick in the glass, or even a fair-size crater, but it didn’t immediately start cracking all the way across. One could actually get to a windshield repair shop, where they’d squirt in some goo and stop the crack. Now, you don’t get a two miles down the road before the crack has taken on a life of it’s own, splitting with abandon.

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Surely a country that can send a man to the moon, or rovers to explore the Martian landscape, or hurtle a craft on a nine-year journey to photograph the mysteries of Pluto, could come up with glass for auto windshields that would be strong enough not to crack crazily when hit by a pebble or other object.

But I’m sure that would cost more, which the auto manufacturers would oppose, and all the makers of replacement windshields would have less business, as would all the shops that replace windshields, and soon thousands of repair persons would be jobless.

So, I suppose I should just stop whining and consider my ongoing windshield purchases as support for the Great American Economy.

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