Laminated sidelites and side airbags are being considered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as it looks to update its U.S. New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), according to auto glass retailers.
Jon Fransway, who has worked as a safety advocate in the AGRR industry since his sister’s death in 1999 due to an allegedly improperly installed windshield, says if the NHTSA decides in favor of the use of more laminated glass, he is in support.
“First of all, there are no cutting corners when it comes to safety,” he says. “As a consumer that has been affected as a result of an improperly installed windshield, we should consider any advancement in technology to better serve the safety of the occupants of the vehicle in a collision or unforeseen rollover.
“As always, the correct procedures used in glass replacement are first on my mind since my sister’s death,” Fransway adds. “We can have the best technology in the world, but if not used correctly it will result in putting consumers at risk.”
Bob Beranek, of Auto Glass Consultants in Sun Prairie, Wis., predicts the usage of laminated sidelites by automakers to increase.
“I do believe that laminated sidelites are going to increase in use for a number of reasons, including safety and acoustical properties,” he adds. “The only restriction that is keeping some vehicle manufacturers from using laminated sidelites is price. But I believe that the price objection will be overcome due to more demand and better production equipment.”
Safelite says the NHTSA is considering the usage of more laminated glass as a part of NCAP.
“We believe that laminated sidelites and/or side airbags do have the potential to positively affect passenger safety and are being considered as potential solutions in the proposed enhanced standards of the NCAP program,” says Melina Metzger, public relations manager for Safelite.
“Any effort to make driving safer is applauded,” says Steve Miggo, Safelite AutoGlass’ senior vice president of operations. “Auto glass certainly has the potential to provide solutions and enhancements to safety improvements in car designs. We’re prepared to adjust to any impact that changes many have on auto glass.”
Brad Voreis, vice president of operations for Glass Doctor, is forecasting a similar trend.
“Currently, I believe lamination is used more as a theft deterrent; however, as stronger and lighter materials are developed, I see this being used in cars more and more,” he says.
Frank Levesque, director of product development & technical services for Glass Doctor, adds, “Mercedes has been using laminated glass in their doors and sidelites for several years now to address the ‘smash and grab’ issue it was having of people breaking the door glass while drivers were at stoplights to steal purses from the front seat where most women place them.”
NHTSA recently closed its first public comment period where is solicited feedback on pedestrian protection, crash avoidance technologies, such as blind spot detection and advanced lighting, as well as changes to crash dummies and more.
NHTSA says it is considering updates to NCAP to take into account “the rapid development of vehicle safety technologies.”
Two of the areas the agency sought comment on that could potentially impact the auto glass repair and replacement industry were pedestrian protection and crashworthiness, including a better understanding of the rear-seat environment.