Here’s One Reason Cars Aren’t as Safe as They Could Be
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Here’s One Reason Cars Aren’t as Safe as They Could Be

Maybe the secret to getting consumers to start demanding active safety technology in their new cars is that cute little insurance lizard.

The largest insurers do not currently offer discounts to consumers for buying autos with collision avoidance systems like automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warnings.

The lack of incentive could hold up faster adoption of such technology and lead to more fatalities than necessary. That’s the argument put forth in a new blog post, titled “U.S. Car Insurers Have Blood on their Hands” by Roger Lanctot, associate director of the Global Automotive Practice at Strategy Analytics. (Even he concedes that the headline might be a “bit of an overstatement.”)

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Lanctot argues that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the research arm of the insurance industry, has published ambiguous data on the efficacy of such collision avoidance systems, which has allowed insurers to justify not giving discounts for them, even as the industry move toward self-driving cars will make them more prevalent.

“The implication is that the broader adoption and market penetration of safety systems actually threatens the livelihood of the insurance companies,” he writes. “Fewer claims mean a smaller overall market as premiums inexorably decline.”

In addition to insurance discounts, Lanctot suggests that the federal government impose “fatality-reduction goals,” on automakers just as they do vehicle emissions reduction and fuel efficiency goals.

“The reality is that claims are on the rise as the number of older drivers grows and as texting and driving among all demographic segments remains a challenge to driving safety,” Lanctot writes.