No one is tracking poor windshield installations, a CBS13 investigation found. Experts within the installation industry suspect anywhere from 70 to 85-percent of aftermarket installations are done incorrectly, creating a safety hazard.
We reported on the danger in May 2012, detailing the death of 25-year-old Jeanne Fransway. She flew out of her car after the windshield separated from the frame during a crash.
Walking through a salvage yard, automotive consultant Butch Lysholm says he can easily find the consequences of a bad installation. He explains the glass is supposed to stay in and support the roof in a rollover crash.
“This shouldn’t happen,” he said while showing a caved in roof with a windshield that popped out. “This shouldn’t just come off like that.
He demonstrates a roof that held its shape when the windshield did what it should, staying in during a crash.
“It came down and must’ve come down hard, but it looks like the glass that’s held the windshield in place,” he said.
After receiving complaints from viewers about a Sacramento company, our hidden cameras caught a local installer cutting corners during our 2012 investigation.
Industry expert Bob Beranek who serves on the board of the Auto Glass Safety Council blames the majority of poor installations on installers who take shortcuts. He says others lack training.
“You take them off the street, throw them in a truck… then you give them a blessing to be an auto glass installer,” he said.
Anyone can become an installer without any training in California if they pay the Bureau of Automotive Repair a few hundred dollars a year to register.
TRACKING POOR INSTALLATIONS
First responders may see windshields popped out at accident scenes, but the accident form they fill out does not have a box to mark the windshield status as it does for whether a seatbelt was worn or if the airbag deployed. These forms generate statistics used to improve safety standards meant to save lives. The Auto Glass Safety Council is pushing for windshield tracking.
“Why not have a box?” Kurtis asked the California Highway Patrol’s Barry Koenig whose Collision Investigation Unit is responsible for the accident report forms agencies use statewide.
“Well, we’ve never been approached for that reason,” he replied.
While he emphasizes seatbelts save lives, he’s open to examining whether the windshield status should be added. CBS13 has learned the Auto Glass Safety Council has drafted a letter to the California Highway Patrol with a request to modify the accident report form.
“It’s not difficult if it has a real good safety cause to it,” he said. “That wouldn’t be difficult at all.”
PUSHING FOR BETTER INSTALLATIONS
After seeing our original investigation, State Senator Jerry Hill of San Mateo says he supports the idea of tracking windshields at crash scenes. He likened the current state standards surrounding windshield installers to the “wild west”. The Democrat’s office says following his inquiry, the Bureau of Automotive Repair has agreed to explore regulations that could require every installer in California go through training and certification.
The new regulations could be in place by the end of the year.
“I think that’ll go a long way in creating integrity and credibility in the industry,” he said.