Pricey Safety Equipment's Value Contested

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a report today indicating that expensive new safety equipment doesn’t really prevent accidents. The report sounds scathing, especially toward seemingly useless blind spot monitors, but once the report charts the number of fatal crashes that could be prevented by widespread use, the case for the certain types of equipment is compelling.

For example, if a system like lane departure warning was mandatory, it would prevent 10,345 fatal crashes annually. Likewise, forward collision warning systems that apply the brakes to prevent a crash could prevent 7,166 crashes if installed in every vehicle.

On the flip-side, blind-spot detection would only prevent 428 fatal crashes. As a raw number that looks good, but compared to other safety systems (including the ones mentioned above) and considering the cost for consumers (anywhere from $700 to $1,700), the statistical tradeoff is pretty insignificant.

While these technologies are usually only available as pricey options on luxury vehicles, we still think there is a good chance they could work their way across more affordable cars. Especially if these numbers are accurate. 

Report: Some auto safety gear’s value limited (USA Today)

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Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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