Your windshield does much more than protect you from the weather, splattered bugs and, as their name implies, the wind. It's quite common, however, for windshields to get cracked, chipped or broken. Whether the damage is caused by a flying rock, a hailstorm or a wayward baseball or golf ball, a broken windshield compromises the safety of your car and should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

Provides a Clear Line of Sight

When your windshield has a chip or a crack, it interferes with your ability to easily see what's going on around you. If you're too busy trying to see around the damage, you're not giving driving your undivided attention. Being distracted while behind the wheel increases your risk of getting into a car accident.

Bears A Lot of Weight

The windshield in your car is similar to a load-bearing wall in your home. Like a load-bearing wall, the windshield provides structural integrity to your car so it's as safe as possible. In fact, if you were to get into a front end collision, the windshield provides about 45 percent of the structural integrity of the vehicle. That number increases to 60 percent in the event of a rollover crash, according to All Star Auto Glass. The windshield also holds the roof up, which is crucial for the proper function of your airbags.

Keeps You In the Car

Windshield manufacturers design the glass in layers so that if you do get into an accident, the glass breaks apart, but doesn't shatter in all directions. When you're driving around with a chip or crack in your windshield, it's a much weaker piece of glass. If your car collides with another vehicle, a strong, unbroken piece of glass will help prevent you from flying out the front of your car. If the windshield is cracked, it's far less likely that it will be strong enough to prevent you from being ejected from the car.

Repair or Replace?

If your windshield has a tiny chip or crack, you won't need to have the entire thing replaced. Instead, take it to an auto glass repair shop or the dealership and have them fix it. Auto parts stores stock do-it-yourself kits that allow you to fix minor damage yourself. A windshield with a crack that goes all the way across or up and down does need to be replaced because such large cracks can't be repaired effectively. Stop ignoring your less-than-perfect windshield and have it repaired or replaced at somewhere like M S Glass Outlet. Your safety depends on it.