Why are we redefining damage assessment? Theautomobile has seen many advancements since the mass production of the Model T. Hydraulicbrakes, laminated windshields, seat belts, air bags andmany convenience improvements just to name a few. However, the advancements we have experiencedsince 2010 dwarfthe previous 50 or more yearscombined. Up until the mid-2000’s most collision andbody repair work was done using opinion guided by experience. We werelooking to achieve a good fit and finish. The vehiclehad to look good and drive straight, that was pretty much it.Today’s vehicles still require a good fit and finish,however a far more important aspect must be considered, SAFETY!
Safety has become the top priority of automobilemanufacturers. Computer technology has made it possible to build in AI (artificial intelligence), providing many new safetyfeatures such as, blind spot detection, forward assist brakingand cross traffic monitoring. Automobile manufactureradvertising constantly shows us how these technologies helpus and make us safer. What the average consumer and evencollision repairers may not know is that the safety technologyextends to pedestrians, exterior body panels and thevehicle’s structure.
Examples of Fender Perches
General Motor's Active Hood Technology
Air bag timing, the flow of collision energy, and thereduction of bodily injury are key functions of not onlythe unibody and frame, but all aspects of the vehicle’s construction. The supplemental restraint systemcontinues to evolve to include active head restraintsand smarter deployment of the seat belts and air bags.Front exterior panels are no longer fixed firmly to thevehicle’s structure, but placed on perches, allowing collision forces created fromstriking a pedestrian, to be absorbed by the vehicle,reducing the severity of injury to the pedestrian.
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are developedwith the express purpose of saving lives. Forward Automatic BrakingAssist and Blind spot Detection are just two systems thatprotect the occupants of the vehicle, and systems such as Rear Automatic Braking prevent the driver from hitting anyobject behind them, especially people. According to recently published data from General Motors, these three systems alone have accounted for an average 51% reduction in vehicle crashes, with the Rear Automatic Braking system accounting for an 81% reduction in backing accidents!
Most people look at the paint on an automobile as apreference and statement aboutthemselves. As repairers,we are expected to know the function of all top coats. It’s not about how much orange peel or trash that sets inthe finish, but the corrosion protection that the primers andtop coats provide. As we move to more mobile vehicle autonomy,automobile top coats play a role in the communication tosensors on the roadway, buildings and other vehicles.We are living through a technological revolution andit is sometimes difficult to see the forest forthe trees.
Think about this, the farrier had a secure job for centuries until the industrial revolution began and the horseless carriage gained acceptance. At that time, many of them had to learn tobecome mechanics or find otherways to make a living. The same is true now! Learn torepair with a safety mindset or move on.