Gene Lopez, director of development and training at Seidner’s Collision Centers, made a presentation on July 12 at a Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) Advisory Group Meeting in Sacramento titled "New Vehicle Technology and OEM Position Statements."
As a former member of the I-CAR Field Operations team, where he was a Regional and National Field Operations Manager for seven years, Lopez often speaks at BAR's quarterly meetings about industry trends, training programs and repair procedures. A 25-year veteran of the collision repair industry, Lopez is currently the Co-Chairman of Education & Training for the Collision Industry Conference and the California Autobody Association. He is also a Co-Chair for the National Auto Body Council’s Distracted Driver Initiative.
After being invited by BAR Chief Pat Dorais to speak, Lopez stated that current California Code of Regulations 3303 and 3365 are outdated and don’t support late model vehicles, but an interpretation from the BAR could reveal the need to recognize today's technologically advanced vehicles.
"Some collision repairers believe the current code of regulations, 3303 & 3365, need to align with late model, current and future model vehicles, especially those with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)," Lopez said. "New technology and innovation have dramatically improved vehicle safety since the latest amendments of CCR 3303 and 3365, and they don't currently address UHSS, aluminum intensive vehicles, composites and combined metal vehicles with ADAS, which include adaptive cruise control, ABS, auto parking, blind spot monitors, collision avoidance systems, lane departure systems and many other driver assistance systems."
The problem is further impacted by the fact that most shops in the state don't have enough proper training to work effectively on today's sophisticated vehicles.
"With only 11 percent of the auto body repair industry in the United States currently holding the I-CAR Gold Class designation and another 20 percent with some level of consistent training, it should be noted that it is possible that 69 percent of the collision repairers may be using generally accepted procedures that are not vehicle manufacturer-approved,” he said. “And because there is no consistent training, it may be assumed that some 69 percent are not repairing vehicles to the latest standards of quality and safety. According to I-CAR, there are 900 Gold Class businesses in California and only 171 consistently training, while the California Department of Insurance has noted there are some 6,200 body shops in the state.”