Both tempered and laminated glass are used in most of the passenger vehicles available in the U.S. today cars, vans, SUVs, and trucks. Each type of vehicle most likely has a windshield made with laminated glass and side and rear windows made with tempered glass. From a safety perspective, this is not adequate.
Laminated Glass Is Safer
Windshields are now made of laminated glass because of its greater strength. Laminated glass has two layers of glass bonded together with an inside layer of plastic, usually PVB (polyvinyl butyral). This layer of plastic bonding keeps the laminated glass from shattering to pieces in a collision.
Today, it's essentially unheard of for someone to be thrown through the windshield in a collision, because laminated glass keeps that from happening. The glass cracks, but it doesn't shatter and fall, or let a body through it.
Tempered Glass Offers No Protection
Tempered glass, in contrast, is a single sheet of glass that has been heat-treated. When tempered glass windows are impacted in a vehicle collision, they shatter, with two devastating results:
the flying shards of shattered glass can lacerate and severely injure or kill occupants of the vehicle, and
shattered or broken-out windows open up sites of exit from the vehicle, through which an occupant can be thrown. Being ejected from a vehicle in a collision greatly increases the chances of injury or fatality.
Laminated Glass Was Once Used
The use of tempered glass in side and rear windows and in roof windows (sun roofs) does not adequately protect the drivers and passengers of vehicles. Interestingly, American automakers started making their vehicles' windshields out of laminated glass in the late 1920s, and eventually made the rest of the windows in their vehicles with laminated glass too. This is a much safer design than the standard today.
A Cost Savings?
In the 1950s and 60s, the auto industry started using tempered glass in the non-windshield windows. Some late-year luxury cars and certain models of pickup trucks, SUVs and vans have laminated-glass side, roof and rear windows, but most vehicles do not have that protection; only their windshields are of laminated glass.
Talk to an Automotive Accidents Attorney
If your collision and injuries involved shattered windows and/or ejection from the vehicle, learn more about your legal options when you contact a law firm that represents the injured in automotive accidents.