Should Safety be an Option?

In the past 10 years, safety technologies, especially in automobiles, have increased dramatically.  Today, automobile manufacturers have crash preventing technologies that could significantly reduce rear-end collisions, which cause half of all automobile accidents and kill approximately 1,700 people a year.

Unfortunately, this type of life-saving technology is not mandated.  Instead… it is an option.  These systems may sound an audible alert to warn a driver he/she is getting too close to another vehicle or automatically apply the brakes to avoid a collision.  The price for these systems to be installed in your vehicle, however, is very steep.  These safety systems could cost several thousands of dollars to own.

Because of the high expense, many auto manufacturers are reluctant to add these life-saving technologies to their cars.  Their concern is that consumers would delay buying new cars and continue to drive older, cheaper, but significantly less safe vehicles.

Safety advocates urge that these life-saving technologies should become mandatory.  Life-saving devices like air bags and seat belts are required on every new automobile.  Shouldn’t the same be true for technologies that can stop a crash, instead of reducing injuries after a crash?

Today, these crash-preventing technologies are only available in approximately 40 percent of all cars and only as an OPTION.  Auto manufacturers argue that it is the consumer’s decision what safety equipment to purchase and when.  Safety advocates, however, argue that the real reason for the delays is that safety equipment does not make for a big mark-up for auto manufacturers.  Instead, auto manufacturers would rather push premium leather seats, premium stereos, and other ”premium” consumer features that have a high mark-up and therefore… higher profit.

According to a 2007 federal study, 87 percent of rear-end collisions were blamed on driver inattention.  If driver inattention could be taken out of the equation by requiring these preventative systems, we could similarly reduce the number of rear-end collisions and the injuries and fatalities associated with those collisions.

No one denies that preventing an accident is far superior to reducing injuries after an accident.  While consumers should have some choices in deciding the color and interior design of their car, consumers also have to realize that their choices in safety not only effect themselves and their families, but other drivers and families on the highway.  The consumer who elects not to purchase the automatic braking system not only puts his family at risk but also the family he may ultimately rear-end while texting and driving.  Moreover, if this new safety technology is mandated, then the cost per device will ultimately go down as they become readily available and manufactured in larger numbers.

In sum, auto manufacturers should be allowed to give consumers their choice of leather or cloth interior and the quality of their stereo system.  However, cutting corners on consumer safety that can prevent accidents and deaths is not okay.

Forty years ago, seat belts were optional.  Today, they are mandatory.  At one time, air bags were an option… but now?  Mandatory.  It’s time to stop the delay in implementing newer and better safety features for our vehicles.

If you, or someone you know or love, have been seriously injured by an unsafe driver or an unsafe car, call the personal injury attorneys of Roberts and Roberts.  For more than 30 years, these attorneys have specialized in representing injured consumers.  The lawyers at Roberts and Roberts have the resources, staff, and expertise to hold manufacturers accountable for their products.  The call costs you nothing… it could mean everything.

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