Use of laminated glass a help or hindrance in car accidents?

Regular readers of this blog may be aware of just how dangerous rollover car accident can be. For those who are not aware, they are considered to be some of the most deadly and account for 10,000 deaths each year in Miami and beyond. A major reason for the deadly result is that it is not uncommon for people who are not properly restrained to be thrown for the vehicle when windows are broken in the collision. To address this issue, and others, safety improvements are regularly being made to motor vehicles.

A recent safety improvement to vehicles was adopted as a rule in January 2011. Known as Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 226, “Ejection Mitigation,” it extends the use of laminated glass from just the windshield to side windows and in some cases cargo areas of certain types of vehicles. The idea behind the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rule is that the glass will be able to withstand more stress and not shatter thereby creating a hole in which an occupant could be launched. One projection indicates the use of the glass could result in saving an average of 373 lives in car accident situations each year.

While the statistics certainly sound encouraging, not everyone is convinced the use of this type of glass is all it is cracked up to be. The author of one report in particular raises issues with one specific situation. That situation is when an automobile becomes submerged in water and rescue workers are unable to easily break the windows to get to the occupants trapped inside. His fear is that in these situations the occupants will actually drown. At this point however, there a few statistics to support that this need outweighs the good the laminated glass could do.

Source: glassBYTEs, “Laminated Glass and Accident Safety: Can Auto Glass be too Safe?” Casey Neeley, Dec. 4, 2012