Each year automakers improve the safety of their models with advanced safety features and improved design and construction to help increase survivability, decrease injuries, and decrease repair expenses. From the introduction of safety glass in 1927, the padded dash and seat belts in the 1960s and 1970s, to the inclusion of “crumple zones” and electronic collision avoidance systems now available, injuries and fatalities due to car accidents are more preventable than ever.
The safest cars currently in production, tabulated by Forbes magazine are Five-star Crash Test rated according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and “triple good” rated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). For 2009, the top 5 include :
- Audi Q7
- Mitsubishi Outlander
- Volvo XC90
- Saturn Vue
- Mercedes-Benz M Class
The Small Car Dilemma
Most notable is the fact that the top 5 contenders are all SUVs, a segment which until recently received much negative press about safety problems, including rollover vulnerability. While it is comforting to drive a large vehicle with superior marks for surviving a crash, a troublesome traffic accident statistic persists in which compact cars account for the highest fatality rate in collisions while car manufacturers continue building smaller and lighter vehicles for the sake of fuel economy.
Beyond the Safest Cars
In order to remain in business, car companies need to make sure vehicles coming off production lines reflect qualities consumers feel are important. In addition to cost and fuel efficiency, safety remains a high priority. We will soon reach a point where crumple zones, passenger restraints and airbags will achieve their maximum effectiveness. Installed in the newest cars and more so in the future are safety features like electronic stability control which compensate for lapses in driver attention, judgment, skill and reflexes.
The Utopian Future
Pushing the concepts of parking assist and lane change assist to the boundaries of science fiction, researchers are testing autonomous automobiles equipped with lane detection systems which can someday shuttle passengers on highways. Onboard systems of sensors and servos will control the vehicle’s speed and direction. Although this technology removes the enjoyment many of us experience from driving, removing the human driver from the process of getting from Point A to Point B will substantially alter these car accident statistics; 45,000 deaths and $230 billion lost per year on our highways.
This article is reprinted by permission from CarInsuranceList.com.