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Safety Technology Takes Years to Trickle into Most Cars

Crash avoidance safety features, like lane departure warning systems, that are available in some luxury vehicles could significantly decrease the number of vehicle accidents, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI). But it can take at least three decades for safety features like these to be on 95 percent of vehicles that are on the road.

In fact, the HLDI says that it may not be until 2049 that crash avoidance technologies are available on most registered vehicles. “Technology is changing fast, but it takes time for it to reach the majority of vehicles,” says Matthew Moore, vice president of HLDI, in the Institute's study. “New features that prove beneficial aren’t instantly available in all new models. And once they are, not everyone rushes out to replace their old vehicle right away.”

But even more commonplace features, like anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control, aren’t on the majority of cars right away. “That’s because new safety technologies, such as front airbags or electronic stability control, usually start as an expensive option on luxury vehicles, and over time they become standard equipment on most mainstream models,” says Cars.com.

Government mandates can expedite the process, but it’s still slow-moving. “Manufacturers began adding front air bags to vehicles in the mid-1980s, but the government didn’t require them until 1999,” says Consumer Reports. “Based on HLDI predictions, and national fleet attrition, it won’t be until 2016 until dual front air bags are found in 95 percent of vehicles, new and old.”

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