Car maintenance is a hassle no one wants to deal with! And when it comes to things going amiss, there’s nothing quite as bad as a cracked windscreen. It’s frustrating because it never feels like your fault, but it inevitably means you’ll have to pay to get it fixed.

But is it illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen in Australia? Or maybe a better question – how cracked does a windscreen need to be to be unsafe to drive?

A car windscreen with a side crack protruding from the edge of the windshield that would be illegal to drive with


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Is it illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen in Australia?

It’s illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen if the crack affects a driver’s ability to see the road, or makes the windscreen unsafe. In NSW, the driver’s side half of the windscreen can have no more than two of the following defects: A hairline crack up to 30mm long; A crack from the edge up to 75mm long or; a ‘bullseye’ crack up to 16mm diameter. Driver’s side damage in excess of this is illegal, and could still be illegal on the passenger side. It’s always illegal to drive a car with a smashed window.

While we used NSW law to start the conversation about windscreen laws, the rules in the other Australian states are similar. There’s a breakdown of the laws in other states further down in this article.

A close up view of a moderately sized star crack in a car windshield, big enough that it is illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen like this


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Why is it illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen?

It’s illegal to drive with a cracked or smashed windscreen for a few fairly obvious reasons. They all relate to the safety of the driver and passengers in the car, as well as other cars on the road.

To increase visibility

If a crack gets in the way of a driver’s vision, it’s more likely they’ll be involved in an accident. They won’t be able to respond to hazards quickly, which is dangerous for everyone on the road.

It’s not just the crack itself that can impede a driver’s vision. Cracks can reflect light that can distract a driver, or startle them if light gets in their eyes suddenly. That’s super dangerous!

To prevent glass shards

Modern glass breaks much more cleanly than old glass, but glass shards are still sharp and pose a risk. A smashed windscreen will often result in shards of glass dropping into the cabin of the car. This could injure someone or shock the driver.

Remember, a cracked windscreen is weaker than one that isn’t cracked, and is more likely to smash. That means even a small crack can result in glass shards becoming a hazard.

Windscreen integrity

Your windscreen is there for a reason! It keeps out everything from rain to rocks, and is essential for your safety in the case of an accident. If part of your windscreen is missing, it’s easy to imagine the kind of risks you’re opening yourself up to.

A small crack can quickly grow, which could become a risk to the overall integrity of the windscreen.

A large smash in the middle of a car windscreen with an out of focus forest in the background


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What should I do if my windscreen is cracked?

There are different answers to this question depending on the situation.

If you notice a small ‘bullseye’ or hairline crack

You can probably still drive the car, but don’t put off getting the crack repaired. Contact a glass repair service or your insurance company to have it fixed before it gets larger. In the meantime, cover the crack with clear sticky tape on the inside and outside to prevent water or dirt from getting into it.

If a small crack occurs while driving

You should probably pull over and quickly inspect the crack, but you can probably continue to drive if the crack is small. As above, get it repaired asap. If you put off fixing it the crack could grow, which might require a new windscreen. And they’re very expensive!

If a major crack or smash occurs while driving

Pull over as soon as possible in a safe location. It is illegal to drive with a smashed windscreen, or one with a major crack. If another party was involved in the smashing of the windscreen, get their details to pass onto your insurance company. Call road side assistance and wait for them to come and inspect the car.

You’ll probably need a tow or an emergency windscreen repair, depending on the circumstances.

If you’re driving a GoGet and find a very small crack at the start of your booking

Check the damage log in the glove box to see if it’s been reported to us already. If it hasn’t, use the app to report the damage before you start your trip. If it has been reported, don’t worry about it.

Note: If the damage is anything more than very minor, give us a call before you start your trip.

If you’re driving a GoGet and the windscreen is cracked mid booking

Pull over safely, as above. Then give us a call to report the incident.

A badly smashed windscreen up close with a forest on the other side - it would be illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen like this


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Cracked windscreen laws: State by state

Australian road rules differ between states. That means whether it is illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen is up to the state governments, and there are subtle differences in the laws. We’ve outlined these below, and we’ve provided some links for further reading.

Is it illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen in New South Wales?

As mentioned above, it is illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen in New South Wales. There are specific rules in NSW about the acceptable size of windscreen defects. The driver’s side of a windscreen can have two of the following defects without being illegal to drive:

  • A hairline crack up to 30mm long
  • A crack from the windscreen’s edge up to 75mm long
  • A bullseye crack up to 16mm diameter

If there’s damage larger than this anywhere on the windscreen, it’s probably a good idea to stop driving the car and get it fixed. If you can get small defects fixed before they get to this stage, even better!

Further reading: NSW Vehicle Standards Information – Windscreens and window tinting

Is it illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen in Western Australia?

In WA, it’s illegal to drive with a windscreen crack that impairs a driver’s vision. Western Australia adheres to the standards set by the National Road Transport Commission’s Roadworthiness Guidelines. These are the same standards NSW uses, and are listed above.

Further Reading: Windscreens and Safety: A Review – Monash Uni (page 33)

Is it illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen in the NT?

It’s illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen in the Northern Territory if it impairs a driver’s vision. The NT also uses the National Road Transport Commission’s Roadworthiness Guidelines. These are the same guidelines used in WA and NSW, and are listed above. 

Further Reading: Windscreens and Safety: A Review – Monash Uni (page 33)

Is it illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen in Victoria?

In Victoria, windscreen cracks that either impede a driver’s vision or that penetrates more than one layer of glass will be illegal to drive with. Here are some of the specific windscreen defects that make your car illegal to drive in Victoria:

  • Discoloured, badly scratched, fractured, or chipped glass in the area wiped by the windscreen wipers to the extent that the car can’t be driven safely.
  • A laminated windscreen with a crack that penetrates more than a single layer of glass.
  • Windscreens with one or more bullseye cracks over 16mm in diameter in the area wiped by the windscreen wipers.
  • Windscreens with one or more hairline cracks over 150mm long in the area wiped by the windscreen wipers.

Note that a bullseye crack or hairline crack under the sizes above could still be illegal to drive with if they made the car dangerous to drive.

Further reading: VicRoads Roadworthiness Requirements (Page 7)

Is it illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen in Queensland?

It’s illegal to drive with a major crack in a windscreen, or if the crack impedes a driver’s vision. The specific requirements of Queensland windscreens are similar to those of Victoria:

  • The ‘primary vision area’, the area swept by the windscreen wipers, must not be damaged so that it impairs the driver’s vision or damages the wiper blades.
  • The driver’s side area of the windscreen swept by the windscreen wipers must not have any; bullseye cracks larger than 16mm in diameter, cracks over 150mm long, or cracks of any kind that penetrate more than a single layer of glass.

Further reading: Queensland windscreen repair standard

Is it illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen in South Australia?

Yes, driving with a cracked windscreen is considered a defect in South Australia. Specifically, a windscreen must not “be excessively cracked, chipped, or scratched”. In practice, that means you should get all cracks and scratches repaired right away, and not drive with a cracked windscreen.

Further reading: Defective Vehicles in South Australia

Is it illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen in the ACT?

In Canberra, it is illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen if it impedes a drivers vision. Specifically, the ACT government requires vehicle inspectors to fail a vehicle if it has more than two of the following types of damage on the driver’s side of the windscreen.

  • One or more bullseye cracks up to 16mm in diameter
  • A hairline crack up to 30mm long
  • A crack from the windscreen’s edge up to 75mm long.

Any damage greater than this on the driver’s side of the windscreen will be illegal to drive with. This level of damage on the rest of the windscreen may also cause the vehicle to be deemed illegal to drive.

Further reading: ACT Light Vehicle Inspection Manual (Rule 105)

Is it illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen in Tasmania?

It’s illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen in Tasmania if the damage is over a minimum threshold. The standards used to be very prescriptive, making Tasmania’s windscreen standards some of the tightest in the country. But that has changed in recent years. Tasmania’s laws around windscreen damage are now identical to those in the ACT, detailed above.

Further reading: Light Vehicle Inspection Manual (page 86)

The interior of a car, looking from the backseat, through a cracked windscreen onto a night scene