Tim Camm, Technical Training Manager, Autoglass®
With more vehicles on UK roads being equipped with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) than ever before, we’re witnessing a technical revolution that is quickly improving driver and vehicle safety. The technology in vehicles is evolving rapidly, but currently many technician training programmes are not evolving at the same pace to keep up with the developments. This needs to change to ensure technicians working on this technology have the right skills to manage and maintain all the safety systems and keep drivers safe on the roads now and in the future.
ADAS is increasingly important in keeping drivers safe on the road and it will only become more common in fleet vehicles in future. Next year will see the introduction of new legislation that will require all new models, including cars and vans, entering the EU market to provide Driver Monitoring and Emergency Lane Keeping technology, while from 2024 it will be compulsory for all new models to have Advanced Emergency Braking with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection installed.
These changes will bring improvements to driver safety; however, they also increase the responsibility on the automotive repair industry to ensure the safety systems are working as the manufacturer intended. The whole industry needs to come together to make sure that aftermarket repair and maintenance is carried out to the highest standards by following the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended methods. Yet the UK’s aftermarket training regime is not as consistent as one might expect.
Some training programmes that are still used widely in the vehicle glass repair, replacement and recalibration industry only require a one-off assessment, which lasts for an entire lifetime. This could mean that a technician completing their training over 20 years ago would still be qualified to work on the newest cars coming off the production line, regardless of the latest cutting-edge technologies on board. In motoring innovation, 20 years is a long time and modern cars have, and continue to, change dramatically with every year that goes by.
While 72% of drivers understand the purpose of ADAS and that it plays a role in helping to reduce accidents and increase safety for drivers and pedestrians alike, our recent research found that four in five drivers mistakenly expect to be warned by their vehicle when one of these technologies isn’t working as it should. ADAS does not currently have the ability to warn the driver when the sensors informing the technology have not been recalibrated correctly or at all, which makes successful recalibration absolutely essential. It is only by going through the latest training that technicians know how to conduct a correct ADAS recalibration – someone who completed their training 20 years ago will not have the necessary skills, current competence, or knowledge to do this.
It is important to stress that not all training programmes follow the one assessment model. For example, technicians at Autoglass® are put through the Institute of the Motor Industry accreditation where technicians are reassessed every two to three years to ensure that they are always up to date with the latest technology that is present in vehicles.
However, there needs to be a standard for training cadence to ensure all technicians across the industry are kept abreast of the newest automotive technologies and requirements and can keep pace with the introduction of new safety standards. Technicians need regular training and assessment. This high bar is essential for preserving driver safety and ensuring technicians are equipped with the relevant knowledge and skills required to repair vehicles of today and the future.
Drivers and fleet managers need to ensure that they are working with a partner that is committed ensuring its people have the correct skills, experience and expertise to keep drivers safe on the roads.