The Markerstudy-owned firm has opened discussions with the UK government to improve safety on the roads using its recalibration technology 

Hundreds of thousands of cars on UK roads could be at risk from not having had their windscreen recalibrated, with insurers often declining to check the status of this procedure at policy inception.

This was according to James MacBeth, managing director at Markerstudy-owned automotive glazing firm Auto Windscreens.

Windscreen recalibration, which is required following a vehicle collision, refers to the process of using technology to realign camera and sensor parameters to capture a complete image of the vehicle and road, which controls advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

ADAS technology allows the vehicle to receive accurate data detecting obstacles to enable assisted parking, for example, and was originally introduced in the 1970s for anti-lock braking systems. 

However, calibration is not a regulated procedure, nor is it part of a standard annual Ministry of Transport (MOT) test.

Moreover, insurers do not ask customers about the status of this proecdure when providing quotes for motor insurance policies. 

But, as technology advances, the importance of getting calibration right is paramount to reduce risk for motor policyholders – which is the motivation behind Auto Windscreens’ attempt to engage with the government.

The firm told Insurance Times that it had opened discussions with the government to raise the issue of calibration for road safety, with a meeting planned with ministers.

MacBeth told Insurance Times: “One of the biggest things in our industry since heated windscreens is ADAS, which is the technology within the vehicle.

“What we have seen is that about eight out of ten cars will have some kind of hardware on the vehicle, which needs to be calibrated.

”Of all the replacement windscreens we undertake, 23% require some form of calibration.

”Next year, we anticipate 30% of our jobs being calibrations, to give you an idea of the increasing demand. ”

Recalibration process

Auto Windscreens handles nearly 1,500 jobs per day at its centres across the UK and employs 383 technicians that see to this.

When a vehicle collission occurs, the vehicle windscreen is often replaced and subsequently needs to be recalibrated.

It can take as long as an hour for a windscreen to be replaced as it needs to be cured. Following this process, the windscreen must then be recalibrated with the ADAS technology within the vehicle, such as its sensors and cameras, which can take a further couple of hours depending on the extent of the damage.

MacBeth noted that windscreen replacement may also be required if the vehicle’s battery is being upgraded, freeing conditions, electrical disconnection or the bumper being replaced. If the car hits potholes or has stone chips hit the windscreen causing it expand in hot weather it may not result in replacement or calibration. 

There are two methods of ADAS calibration – static and dynamic.

Dynamic calibration, also known as mobile ADAS, is performed by connecting a handheld unit to the vehicle. This vehicle then must be driven at the manufacturer’s prescribed speed over a set distance.

Meanwhile, static calibration is performed in a controlled workshop environment where the vehicle is not required to be driven.

Scarce parts

Calibration of windshields has been impacted by much-publicised difficulties around securing car parts, which are taking longer to get hold of for repairers. 

MacBeth said: “The challenge we have [from customers] is the ‘I want it done today’ [attitude]. We have [then] got to source the part. 

”Timescales for replacements can depend on the glass required, which can be longer for classic or older vehicles, but we always try to source glass to get customers back on the road as soon as we can.”

As technology in vehicles becomes more advanced, Auto Windscreens has committed to educating customers about calibration issues on its website.

On the flipside, however, more advanced technology means pricier repairs, which could result in claims inflation.

For MacBeth, the windscreen industry should be much more recognised by the insurance industry.

He explained: “It’s not just about the technology, I would like to get the windscreen industry recognised as a trade and ensure that vehicles are compliant with ADAS.

“It’s all about safety. If it’s not done right, [people are] risking their business, [vehicles] and people as well.”