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Advertising Feature: Is a lack of expertise at bodyshops putting drivers at risk?

car-repair

New technology can save lives, but Neil Atherton, sales and marketing director at Autoglass, fears a lack of expertise at bodyshops could put drivers at risk and lead to increased insurance claims.

Neil Atherton Autoglass
Neil Atherton, sales and marketing director, Autoglass

The debate about Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) technology and its impact on the insurance industry has been rumbling on for several years; initially focused on vehicle glass repair, it is now shifting to focus on bodyshops too.

Much like seatbelts and airbags, ADAS technology is an absolute game-changer for driver safety, with the potential to save thousands of lives when functioning correctly. Systems such as lane departure warnings and automatic braking are increasingly common, but as with any technology these systems will only perform as they should when correctly calibrated.

ADAS technology is installed across a vehicle, with sensors most commonly sitting on the windscreen and mounted within the bumpers, and must be calibrated when a car undergoes bodywork that affects the cameras and sensors or a windscreen replacement. If not calibrated correctly there is a risk of the driver relying on a system which is not accurate.  Even one degree of misalignment can create a blind spot of nearly a foot at 100 yards – that’s enough to obscure a pedestrian, or to not “see” a hazard the car should brake to avoid.

A Perfect Storm

Our data predicts that by the end of 2020 one in four (24.5%) of all windscreen replacements will need ADAS calibration. Market predictions are that 40% of cars on the road by this time will have two types of ADAS fitted, meaning a significant proportion of vehicle bodywork is also likely to require sensor calibration – without this being done, or being done inaccurately, those safety systems will not function properly.

ADAS calibration is incredibly specialised work, and the systems allow virtually no margin for error. At Autoglass® we’ve been investing heavily in this since its inception and have access to best-in-class technology and training, meaning we can adapt to the needs of the industry and stay up to date with the latest innovation. However, many smaller businesses, particularly independent bodyshops, are not lucky enough to have the same access and are struggling to keep up with the rate of change. Currently bodyshops which cannot complete an ADAS calibration have to send the vehicle to the manufacturer, increasing the time the vehicle is off the road and adding another layer where inaccuracies could occur.

Furthermore, some vehicle manufacturers claim only they are able to correctly perform calibrations. In many cases this work is actually undertaken by dealerships which may be franchises, and so there is no guarantee they have the necessary skills and technology required to do the work accurately and safely.

These risks are compounded by the fact that a car’s sensors may not detect that systems aren’t working properly - no warning light informs the driver of the inaccuracy for example - so the driver could be relying on safety equipment that will not effectively spot and react to hazards.

All in all we’re in a perfect storm of growing demand but no equivalent growth in the required expertise to meet it. This is a huge chasm of risk that most motorists are simply not aware of.

This is not only about the physical safety of road users, but also has a knock-on effect on insurance policies. If drivers rely on improperly functioning safety systems, there is an increased risk of accidents, which means more insurance claims. For insurers this a huge and growing problem.

The Solution

Our new Total Calibration Solution helps to alleviate some of this pressure. It is powered by Over The Air, which provides direct access to manufacturer software. This means Autoglass® has instant access to the latest data and can calibrate and recode the ADAS sensors on any vehicle, providing a one-appointment solution for every calibration requirement. The service is designed for bodyshops and is quickly being adopted by the sector.

 This will provide a much smoother journey for insurance customers and provide them with the security that their sensors are being calibrated by the industry leader in ADAS calibration. Autoglass® has both the skills and technology to perform ADAS calibrations every time. Autoglass® has also collaborated with the IMI (Institute of Motor Industry) to introduce an ADAS accreditation for technicians and assessors.

As the pace of growth in ADAS increases, the industry must ensure that no driver is on the road relying on a faulty system. Our Total Calibration Solution minimises risk for drivers, supports bodyshops in allowing them to continue to service their customers, and ultimately means insurers will see fewer claims as a result of incorrectly functioning ADAS.  We are leading the market in our approach to ADAS and I encourage bodyshops across the UK to join us in our mission to educate drivers about ADAS, to raise and uphold standards in calibration, and ultimately ensure this technology really does keep the UK’s motorists safe on the road.

 

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