The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), has released a study on the development of important automotive safety technologies that should be available to most . . . in 30 years. Crash avoidance safety features, such as lane departure warning systems, side view assists and forward collision alerts, are already being featured on luxury autos of most manufacturers. However, these existing safety features and others currently in development won’t likely be seen in most registered vehicles for decades.
The study, “Estimated Time of Arrival,” published in the IIHS journal Status Report, projects the years in the future when all vehicles will finally have some of this new and important safety equipment. Antilock brakes sure sounds like an attribute that’s the norm for all cars but, in fact, that feature won’t be standard for all cars until 2015. And surprisingly, it won’t be until 2016 that 95% of all registered vehicles are equipped with front airbags. It won’t be until 2028 that side airbags make it into most vehicles. The most recent advances dealing with collision avoidance technologies could potentially reduce or mitigate 1.9 million crashes, including 1 in 3 fatal crashes, according to the study. But that technology won’t be available to most vehicles until 2049.
We all know how fast technology changes, but like any of the electronics that have become an integral part of our lives, it takes time for the newest advancements to reach
the general population, including important features like crash avoidance in automobiles. Even when a breakthrough is announced, not everyone rushes out to replace their old vehicles, especially given the present state of the economy. Government mandates can often expedite the process of making safety features
commonly available, but it’s still a slow-moving process. For example, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) was introduced in model-year 1995. By 2000, it was standard on 10% of the models and an option on 4%. ESC has been shown to dramatically reduce crashes, particularly rollovers. As a result, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) required that ESC be standard on all passenger vehicles as of model year 2012. The feature was available on 95% of cars by 2010.
While the U.S.can’t quite envision a crash-free future just yet, safety features being introduced now and in the last 10 to 15 years offer great promise. Cars that can talk to each other and cars that can talk to infrastructure are being discussed as platforms that
could advance crash avoidance. There are even cars being modified to operate without a driver, technology that has already been granted a patent. But for now, and for at least 30 years into the future, that won’t happen. So when you’re on the road, either in your professional capacity as a limousine chauffeur or driving your family to a weekend vacation, keep your eyes moving, maintain a safe following distance and don’t speed. These three collision avoidance techniques are timeless and will never be replaced.