Autoglass Ireland told the Joint Oireachtas Transport and Communications Committee that the practice of ‘steering’ by insurance companies and a lack of regulation in the Vehicle Glass Repair and Replacement (VGRR) industry is leading to the safety of thousands of Irish motorists being potentially compromised as some windscreen providers are failing to replace windscreens correctly.
The committee heard that the windscreen of a modern car now accounts for up to 30 per cent of the structural integrity of the vehicle and prevents the roof collapsing in the event that the vehicle rolls over.
Also, the airbag, once activated, on the passenger side relies on support from the windscreen in order to work correctly.
Early in 2012, Autoglass commissioned a major study, carried out by the UK-based transport industry experts, Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), on the extent of the problem with the quality and safety of windscreen replacements in Ireland.
This study found that over 35 per cent of windscreens that had previously been replaced were judged to exhibit some type of quality or safety issue and over 14 per cent were judged to exhibit safety issues rated as ‘high’ or ‘medium.’
Thus, the company claims, in Ireland, 36,274 windscreen replacements per year have some kind of quality or safety issue Of these, between 11,803 and 17,809 are estimated to have a windscreen replacement which may compromise the level of safety offered.
During the study some striking examples of serious quality and safety problems were recorded. These ranged from issues of poor quality, where windscreens were fitted without necessary equipment and components, to serious safety issues where the windscreen could just be pushed out by hand.
Autoglass have now commissioned TRL to conduct a second tranche of research that will establish the exact physiological effects of these poor practices in an impact situation on a driver in various models of cars.