December 6, 2018

Windscreen Replacement Getting More Complex

Driver Safety Systems Make Windscreen Replacement More Complex – and Costly!


One of the most recent trends in the new car market has been the increase and popularity of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) which can be invaluable in helping warn drivers of oncoming dangers.

Due to their many safety benefits, ADAS technologies feature as standard in many new vehicles, and the uptake of ADAS across corporate fleets has been much faster than in the UK car parc in general, as fleets tend to purchase the newest vehicles.

Recent research by windscreen specialist Autoglass showed that 7.5% of all windscreens replaced now require ADAS calibration, but that for the fleet industry it was closer to 30%.

However, the speed with which these systems have grown has also created a knowledge-gap amongst fleet managers and drivers alike on how to manage these technologies correctly and how they interact with their vehicle’s windscreen.

Growth of driver safety systems

In recent years ADAS technologies, such as automatic emergency braking, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, front facing cameras and lane departure warnings, have become a standard feature in many UK cars.

The Autoglass research estimates that 29% of all car fleets and 40% of all light commercial fleet vehicles are now enabled with some form of ADAS technology.

And this trend only looks set to continue and to expand further with more safety features likely to appear as standard equipment over the coming years as safety technologies advance and develop.

Windscreen change requires re-calibration

However, with the growth in these safety systems, there is still a general lack of awareness that there is an immediate need for ADAS re-calibration following the change of a windscreen.

In the past, a broken windscreen was an inconvenience that could be rectified at the roadside, requiring little intervention other than a new pane of automotive glass.

Now however, due to advances in safety technologies, the screen replacement will also need to be followed immediately by a re-calibration of the driver assistance systems linked to the screen – otherwise they cease to function correctly.

This will require a trip to the windscreen replacement company’s own re-calibration centre – and there are growing numbers of these across the country – or a visit to a franchised dealer to have the necessary work carried out, which will inevitably mean the vehicle is off the road while the work is completed.

Accident prevention

It is vital that windscreen re-calibration is carried out because so many of the safety features, including adaptive lighting and adaptive cruise control, are inextricably linked to the screen, which is in itself an essential structure in maintaining the integrity of the vehicle.

Take front-facing cameras that activate ADAS systems, for example. When a windscreen is replaced, the cameras need to be recalibrated otherwise they can no longer accurately identify dangers on the road and the connected systems fail to work.

Failure to complete a calibration can have dramatic consequences as the driver will be relying on a faulty system, so it is vital that re-calibration work is carried out as soon as possible.

This could be the difference between avoiding an accident or not and could potentially result in a blameworthy accident that lands at the company’s door.

Higher incidence of replacement and costs

With the increasingly congested nature of the country’s roads, it is not perhaps surprising that there is a high incidence of windscreen breakage and replacement.

At CLM for example, there were around 1,700 windscreen replacement jobs during 2017 – an incident rate of more than 10% of the whole fleet.

At the same time, with the increased complexity of technologies, the costs involved in replacement and re-calibration have also risen.

Some of the latest panoramic screens, for example, can cost as much as £4,500 to replace, while an average screen replacement and re-calibration is typically around £400-500 for the screen and a further £200 for the re-calibration.

Education required

As the number of fleets deploying ADAS enabled vehicles increases, there is a need for greater education to ensure the systems are being deployed correctly.

For example, chips in a screen should never be left, especially on frosty mornings, as they could quickly lead to widespread cracking which would necessitate the replacement of the screen. Company advice to drivers should be to report chips immediately and have them repaired as soon as possible.

Beyond calibration, fleet managers need to ensure the technology is correctly fitted and that clear instructions on the use of ADAS are given to drivers.  Perhaps most importantly, fleet managers should request that drivers don’t switch off ADAS capabilities in their vehicle.

Autoglass research amongst fleet decision-makers highlighted that a number of drivers were turning off these systems, with 59% of ADAS owners regularly turning off forward collision warnings and 57% doing the same with lane departure warnings.

At CLM, we believe that drivers need to be educated on the multiple benefits of ADAS to ensure they appreciate the role the technology plays in keeping them safe on the road.

So, where vehicles have been specified with these systems, the company fleet policy should clearly lay down that they are deployed at all times and not deactivated by drivers.

If you would like any more information on this subject, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!