Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly passed a “Right to Repair” Ballot Initiative in the November elections that was supported by the Auto Glass Safety Council. The initiative will ensure that vehicle repair information is available to independent repair facilities so car owners are not forced to go to car manufacturer’s dealers to repair their vehicles. Importantly, it applies to auto glass repair and replacement.
The Auto Glass Safety Council joined with a coalition of auto repair shops, auto parts stores, consumers and drivers interested in making sure vehicle owners have access to repair and diagnostic information available on the vehicles they own. AGSC reached out to its members in Massachusetts and neighboring states to gather support and used its social media platforms to advocate in favor of passage of the ballot initiative.
“The AGSC got involved in supporting this Massachusetts legislation for safety reasons, because we believe that consumer safety would be jeopardized if repair facilities didn’t have access to the telematics in a vehicle,” explained Seth Maiman, AGSC Director of Public Affairs to industry newsletter glassBYTEs. “The idea that a vehicle owner would be able to take their vehicle to a shop to be repaired, in this case to repair or replace auto glass, that didn’t have access to vital safety data has been concerning to AGSC,” continued Maiman.
Massachusetts has a complicated ballot initiative law where supporters submitted over 100,000 signatures in December 2019. Then, after the legislature failed to act even though a House bill had 70 cosponsors, the supporters were required to submit a second set of signatures, on a tight deadline and in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, in order for the “right to repair” initiative to gain placement on the November 2020 ballot. The effort was successful as “it passed three to one, so it passed by an overwhelming majority even though the opponents spent a lot of money. It clearly has a consumer consensus, a public mandate — always a good thing to have when legislating,” analyzed Maiman.
The initiative updates a voter passed 2013 state Right to Repair law and was necessary to address the growing majority of new cars that hold essential repair data that are being limited to car dealers and block consumers, and their repairer of choice, from accessing the data.
Now, beginning with vehicles in model year 2022, cars sold in Massachusetts that use the telematics system will have to have an interoperable standardized and open access platform. The platform would have to be capable of securely communicating all mechanical data directly from the vehicle to the platform and be directly accessible by the owner of the vehicle via mobile-based application, and, upon owner authorization, all data would be directly accessible by an independent repair facility to complete repairs.
“The interoperable system will have to be established so that any repair or replacement shop in Massachusetts would have access to critical vehicle data,” said Maiman. “As a practical matter, if the car manufacturer has to do that for cars sold in Massachusetts, it may decide to do that for all of its vehicles, and therefore the hope is that the manufacturer’s obligation to comply with this Massachusetts law will help drive what happens in reality throughout the country.”
According to Maiman, the industry will have to wait and see how vehicle manufacturers react to the Right to Repair legislation. “It has obvious broad implications across the nation. AGSC believes other states might elect to follow Massachusetts’s lead and have their legislators pass similar state laws,” Maiman said. “It is also likely this is the way cars will be manufactured in the future.”