by Bob Beranek
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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.