by Bob Beranek

I just got back from Glass Expo West™ in Irvine, Calif., where the Auto Glass Safety Council™ (AGSC) held its spring board and committee meetings. Every spring and fall the AGSC board and committees meet to discuss the AGRSS™ Standard, which they are responsible for maintaining, as well as other pressing issues that affect the industry. I am proud to be a board member, chairman of the AGSC Standards Committee and a member of the Education Committee, so it was a busy week.

The biggest issue, both in the committee meetings and at the bar afterward, was the Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS). How should we handle the recalibration both practically in our daily work and in our AGRSS™ Standard? There were some passionate discussions based on the information brought to us by Mitch Becker of ABRA Collision and Glass and Glen Moses from Safelite. Both gentlemen brought some very interesting facts as well as their opinions, based on extensive research.

Anyone who follows this blog knows my feelings on the issue. Safety is paramount and no matter how anyone wants to paint it, it still comes down to delivering a safe vehicle back to the customer in a manner that is reasonable for business.

If you haven’t seen my previous posts, I said:

  • ADAS is a safety device;
  • Any ADAS cameras or equipment the technician removes or displaces during the course of an installation must be recalibrated by a certified calibration specialist, such as the vehicle dealer or an approved calibration professional, if such calibration is required by vehicle manufacturers’ specifications; and
  • If the calibration cannot be done to the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications by the glass technician, an appointment should be made with the appropriate recalibrating agency by the glass shop for the customer so any liability will be reduced to the shop owner.

My belief was that this would have protected both the customer and the glass shop from any issues arising from the ADAS.

Last week I discovered, unfortunately, that the issues aren’t that simple. Here are some more facts about the new ADAS systems that glass shops will need to address:

  • There are more and more vehicle manufacturers that are requiring OEM glass be used on vehicles equipped with ADAS systems. The glass part itself must meet the exact specifications of the system or it may perform abnormally due to curvature issues and tint.
  • Some dealers may not even calibrate the glass unless the glass is OEM so check this out with your local dealerships.
  • Many dealers across the U.S. don’t even know what an ADAS is or know how to deal with it.
  • The debate is still on whether the ADAS is a safety device due to the ability of the driver to bypass the system by turning it off. It was reported that even the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) did not want to weigh in on this issue as yet.

This makes dealing with these systems very problematic. So problematic in fact, that the AGSC Standards Committee could not yet develop a directive or statement without absorbing and digesting all the information first.

We decided to review the information brought to our attention, research added information ourselves and come back this fall with our recommendations for the committee to debate. This technology is so new and so diverse that even the carmakers’ dealership system is unsure of the ramifications of calibration or recalibration. All we know is what is written in the service manuals of the vehicles, and all we can do at this time is to follow those recommendations.

However, there was one positive note on all this doom and gloom. General Motors does not require recalibration of their ADAS after windshield replacement because they designed it to be self-calibrating. The belief of some of the pundits in the room is that calibration of ADAS may become a moot point in the next decade due to standardization of the systems currently in use. Some believe that the ADAS will go the way of GM’s self-calibrating system rather than Europe’s system of constant calibration of electronic features.

We can only hope.

New technology was a subject dominating Auto Glass Week 2014™, especially lane departure systems and items needing re-calibration or initialization. I have addressed this topic in the past, but at the show we had experts from many fields giving their viewpoints at seminars and committee meetings.

It all started the first day in the Auto Glass Safety Council’s Standard Committee meeting. Mitch Becker of ABRA Auto Body & Glass presented a proposal to add a new directive to the standard addressing driver-assisted systems such as lane departure, automatic braking systems and intuitive cruise control. The committee debated the suggestion for most of our scheduled time. It is such a complex issue that we decided to form a sub-committee to study the ramifications and present a proposal for the full committee’s consideration.

Those who read my blog regularly may not be surprised that the discussions were centered on the issue of whether these systems were safety devices or performance features. One presenter said they were not safety devices because they are controlled by the driver, thus making them an option. Other presenters claimed that the marketing of these devices emphasize “added safety” so they must be considered a safety item. There were also a number of spirited conversations during presentations and cocktail parties concerning when and if the devices need calibration and how to go about it.

My take on the issue has not changed. Whether a driver-assisted system is called a safety device or not, if it comes to litigation, you are better safe than sorry. If an automotive glass shop or a dealer fails to reset, recalibrate or re-initialize a system, they will be called into court to explain why they didn’t. The judge and/or a jury will not care what the vehicle manufacturer calls it when a disabled victim is wheeled into the courtroom.

When do you re-calibrate? I think it comes down to common sense and what the vehicle manufacturer recommends. If the driver-assisted systems are attached or in close proximity to the automotive glass in the vehicle, it is wise to have it re-calibrated by a certified shop. If the vehicle manufacturer recommends re-calibration after glass replacement, it is your responsibility to make that happen.

My recommendation is to personally make an appointment with a certified dealer or shop for your customer. Then notify the two parties verbally and in writing of the details and hand the responsibility of recalibration to them to complete. Doing it this way you have greatly reduced your liability exposure.

Whether we like it or not, driver-assisted systems are not going away. On the contrary, they will be increasing and be more sophisticated. We will have to oversee and document the steps we make to keep these systems operable, or we will have to add system recalibration to our list of services. The Auto Glass Safety Council™ met with I-Car at the show and they promised to work with us on this issue as well. Look for some new announcements in future months.

I am ready for my training and exam proctoring coming up in San Antonio, Texas, and I can’t wait until next week. As most of you know, I live in Wisconsin and this winter has been slow in leaving God’s Country. We have had one of the harshest winters in memory and I am looking forward to the warm and dry climate of south central Texas and the camaraderie of my friends and colleagues in the automotive glass industry.

My trip to Texas is not a vacation, however. While I enjoy the Riverwalk and the many sites of the city, my job at the show is to highlight the benefit of training and certification to the south central region of the country.

One of this year’s goals of the Auto Glass Safety Council™ (AGSC) is to increase the number of qualified technicians in the industry. The group is promoting this by bringing the training and exam to technicians in their own backyards. The accreditation course I teach will be held on April 10th from 3-5 p.m. and then the exam will be given directly after that from 5-6:30 p.m. Not only do you get “to-the-test” training but you also get to take the accreditation exam for free. Pre-registration is now closed, but on-site registration is still available.

Non-members pay only $49 per person, a cost that includes the price of the exam. You cannot beat this deal.

The program consists of two hours of test preparation and training, and then the accreditation exam itself. I will be covering the material necessary to give you the best chance of passing the exam. This course is aimed at techs who are already competent glass installers. My course helps as a refresher with material that techs don’t necessarily see in their everyday practice. Obviously, because of the time we have, the class cannot be all inclusive when it comes to automotive glass installation training, but I will give you the high points to better your odds of passing the exam.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s great for Texas but what about those of us in the great Northeast? Don’t worry. I will be in Baltimore during the Auto Glass Week™ in October, with the same great opportunity.

Would you like a certification refresher course in your region or within your organization? All that is needed is a room and enough technicians ready to learn what’s new and willing to prove their knowledge. For $49 per person for non-AGSC Registered Members and free for AGSC-Registered Members, this is a great cost effective way to build your credentials and improve your reputation in your market. You might just learn something while you’re at it. How can you not jump at this opportunity?

So, get on Facebook, tweet on Twitter, call your local organization, bug your distributor and organize a group to bring AGSC to your region for training and the accreditation exam. AGSC and I want to make you shine in your market by giving you the means to build your business through training and recognition. I hope to see you soon.