Replacement Windscreens – a serious vehicle and road safety issue

The AAIA presented an issues paper on replacement windscreen adhesives at the Australasian Road Safety Conference 2016 in Canberra on Tuesday 6th September 2016. The conference attracted over 600 attendees and the ‘Replacement Windscreens’ presentation was well attended.

The AAIA issues paper was a collaborative exercise between the AAIA; Transport and Road Safety Research (TARS), UNSW, Australia; George Rechnitzer & Associates Pty Ltd; Sika Australia - Adhesives; and Henkel Australia – Adhesives. Dr George Rechnitzer delivered the presentation.

The extended abstract of the issues paper can be downloaded here and the main points made in the presentation include:

  • Over 1.0m windscreens replaced each year in Australia.

  • Modern windscreens are an integral part of the vehicles safety and crashworthiness design.

  • Australian Standard 4739-2002 specifies windscreen replacement to OEM specifications.

  • AAIA contention that few windscreen repairers have access to OEM adhesive specifications even for the most common vehicles on Australian roads.
  • In the absence of OEM adhesive specifications, windscreen fitters are reliant on marketing claims of adhesive suppliers such as – OEM compliant, FMVSS 208, FMVSS 212, or EuroNCAP.
    Whilst FMVSS 212 (windscreen retention) and FMVSS 216 (roof strength) are relevant, they do not validate OEM adhesive performance specifications.
    In the case of FMVSS 212 for instance; does an adhesive that successfully passes the 212 test (but where almost half of the windscreen adhesive failed) using for example a Ford Fiesta, mean that the adhesive is also suitable in a BMW 4 Series Cabriolet, a 508 Peugeot or a VY Holden Commodore?

  • The standard of windscreen replacements in Australia is a largely unacknowledged road safety issue.

Recommendations:

  1. AS 4739-2002 needs to include the specifications of glass and adhesives used in Australian windscreen replacements;

  2. All Vehicles sold in Australia must include a specification sheet in standardised form made available to the windscreen replacement industry, which readily enables identification of adhesives which meet the OEM specifications;

  3. Insurance companies and fleet operators need to require the use of glass and adhesives that meet the updated AS4739 specifications;

  4. A regulatory regime to be considered by government (or alternatively industry and insurers) requiring all windscreen installer’s to be qualified and certified;

  5. That windscreen failure (e.g. lack of bonding) be identified in the police collision reports.

The issue of replacement windscreens being installed using an adhesive that perhaps falls short of the OEMs specification, and therefore compromising the OEM’s design and safety features prompted the interest of a number of research organisations. Many conference attendees were dumbfounded that this could be the case given the huge research and policy effort that has gone
into improving vehicle safety (and infrastructure) in the last decade; whilst all along, the suspect fitting of an unknown proportion of over a million windscreens per year has been flying under the radar.