Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin
Winter weather travel advisories have lifted and shops are seeing increased traffic in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
For Kelley Auto Group Collision, technicians have just begun to receive these vehicles, according to Nathan Nix, manager of body shops at 500 E. State Blvd. and at 633 Avenue of Autos in the 14/69 Auto Mall in Ft. Wayne.
Since the company services drivable and nondrivable vehicles, technicians have worked hard to get drivable vehicles finished in order to begin work on the nondrivable vehicles.
“The question is, how soon can we get to them without giving someone an expectation that’s too great?” Nix asked.
Starting Jan. 1, motorists can talk and drive only if they use a hands-free device to conduct cellphone conversations in Illinois. That will dramatically change the day-to-day routine for millions of Illinoisans, or force them to shop around for yet another high-tech device for the car.
The uniform ban supplements the state’s current ban on texting and replaces assorted local laws on cellphone use that vary from town to town, including Chicago, where a cellphone ban has been in place since 2006.
Violators face fines starting at $75, and repeat offenses bring the possibility of a suspended license.
State Sen. John Mulroe, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the law, said witnessing several near-accidents during trips to Springfield convinced him that “hands on the wheel and eyes on the road are the way to go.” While he says the law won’t eliminate distractions, he hopes it’ll cut down on accidents.
Gov. Rick Snyder has approved Michigan to join California, Florida and Nevada in allowing self-driving vehicle research on the state’s streets and highways. Snyder has signed legislation allowing the testing of automated or self-driving vehicles on Michigan’s roads, but that doesn’t mean state residents will see cars with empty drivers’ seats anytime soon.
The laws, approved by the state Legislature, allow carmakers, auto suppliers and developers like Google to test automated vehicles. But they they require a human to be in the driver’s seat at all times to monitor performance and take control if necessary.
At least one auto supplier— Continental Corp—which has facilities in Auburn Hills and the Sault Ste. Marie area, had considered moving some autonomous vehicle testing to Nevada, according to state Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, who introduced the legislation in the state Senate. Nevada has permitted testing of autonomous cars on state roads since 2012. California and Florida also allow testing.
Test cars will carry an “M” license plate to identify them.
In December 2013, State Farm experienced a dramatic reduction in the number of shops participating in Select Service (their direct repair program) in the Fort Wayne, IN, area due to the implementation of PartsTrader. Of the 22 local shops participating in the DRP, 14 (over 60%) opted out of the program, though some of these shops had been on the program for decades. Several shop owners and managers were willing to discuss their reasons for being removed from the Select Service.
Todd Bonecutter, General Manager at Glenbrook Collision at 100 W. Coliseum Blvd in Ft. Wayne, said he opposes PartsTrader as a mandated tool. “We don’t like being told where we can buy our parts or being prevented from buying parts from our usual vendors. This is just a stepping stone for the insurers to dictate other things in the collision industry. They starts with parts, but it’s only a matter of time before they move on to paints and other materials.”
A Rhinelander, WI, body shop owner will spend the next 10 years in prison and have to repay over $1.3 million for defrauding insurance companies.
43 year old John (Jack) Henricks III was sentenced Jan. 14 in federal court for using the U.S. Mail to defraud insurance companies. Federal Judge Barbara Crabb pronounced sentence after Henricks plead guilty to the charges last August.
Prosecutors say Henricks used his prior business, Custom Collision, to defraud 19 auto insurance companies. Henricks would stage auto accidents and send in false work orders in order to collect insurance on the vehicles. Assistant US Attorney Tim O'Shea says Oneida County officials did the bulk of the work. "They recognized that this was an important case, they recognized that it was important to do the hard work to hold Mr. Henricks accountable, and the credit in this 10 year sentence goes to the Oneida County sheriff's department.
A 25-year-old Racine, WI, man was arrested minutes after grabbing two bank bags full of cash from a nearby auto parts store, police said. The man walked into Gordon Auto Parts, 1401 King Drive, and inquired about some merchandise. The man shoved the owner, grabbed the bags and fled. Minutes later a man matching the robber's description was taken into custody. The store owner suffered minor injuries, and police recovered the bank bags and cash. Anyone with information on the robbery is asked to call the Racine Police (262) 635-7756, or Racine Crimestoppers, (262) 636-9330.
One of Illinois’ best auto body repair education programs soon will get even better, after Waubonsee Community College’s program became one of four nationwide to secure a $50,000 grant from the Collision Repair Education Foundation.
Undocumented immigrants in Illinois have begun taking road tests to qualify for driver’s licenses, starting a process expected to be closely watched by other U.S. states that are preparing to implement similar laws.