Poorly-fitted windscreens ‘can be deadly’

The safety of up to 89,000 cars on Irish roads may be "critically compromised" due to poorly-fitted windscreens.

The findings were highlighted at a discussion on the dangers of travelling in unsafe vehicles due to poor windscreen fittings held by the Ireland Munster Centre (IRM) as part of their contribution to road safety at the Silver Springs Hotel, Cork, last night.

IRM is a local branch of the Institute of Road Transport Engineers that promotes road transport engineering in the Munster region.

Speaking before the event, Alun Donnelly of Autoglass said windscreens accounted for up to 34% of the structural strength of a car and, in the event of an accident, prevent occupant ejection, support airbag inflation, and were of critical importance should a car flip over.

Independent research commissioned by Autoglass in 2012 found that up to 89,000 cars on Irish roads may have poorly-fitted windscreens, while more than 14% were judged to exhibit safety issues rated as “high” or “medium”.

More than 36,000 windscreen replacements performed in Ireland a year are carried out on foot of some kind of quality or safety issue.

Despite all this, Ireland still had no uniform industry standard for proper windscreen replacement and repair.

There is very little legislation in respect of vehicle glass repair and replacement in this country. The only regulation that applies relates to the standards of the glass to be used in windscreens, as opposed to the methods of fitting the glass.

Autoglass is calling for a uniform industry standard to be applied to the windscreen repair and replacement sector. “What we are calling for now is for the industry to change their bad habits also,” said Mr Donnelly.

“Motorists deserve better than the current unregulated situation and we need to develop a standard that is in the best interests of everybody operating in the Irish market, including Autoglass, but most importantly Irish motorists.”

IRM chairman Donal Buckley said the issue of poorly-fitted windscreens was one of a number of issues that needed to be tackled in order to improve road safety.

“The IRM has major concerns at the rising number of road deaths and acknowledge there are many elements that go towards creating a safer road environment,” he said. “This is why we have a dedicated and hard-working centre committee that sources first-class technical lecturers from within the EU, providing various topics of interest for the motor and transport industries.”

Cracking up

A four-month irish study commissioned by autoglass found that:

- Over 35% of windscreens that were previously replaced were said to exhibit a quality or safety issue;

- Over 14% exhibited safety issues rated as ‘high’ or ‘medium’;

- 36,274 replacements per year have a quality or safety issue;

- Of these, between 11,803 and 17,809 have a replacement which may compromise the safety offered;

- Over a five-year period, 180,000 windscreen replacements may have quality or safety deficiencies. between 59,000 and 89,000 may have more significant safety issues.

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