NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Automakers Improving Car Safety Without Government Rules

March 21, 2001

Safety is a high priority of car buyers that automakers compete to fulfill. Insurance companies, which have a stake in the process, established the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which crash tests cars and publishes the scores. New car designs are performing much better than their predecessors, according to new test results.

It's a self-regulating process that works without government regulations -- and works even better without government involvement, many experts think.

  • IIHS president Brian O'Neill reports that it doesn't have to cost automakers more to incorporate the latest safety features in autos during the development stage -- but can add costs when a manufacturer tries to improve midstream.
  • IIHS crashes cars at 40 m.p.h. -- even though federal traffic safety standards specify only a 30 mph impact, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tests at 35 mph.
  • While making a car safer usually means adding more weight and, thus, reducing fuel economy, it is not impossible to make safer and more fuel efficient cars.
  • The 2001 Honda Civic, for example, weighed 91 pounds more than its predecessor but was 2 miles per gallon more efficient in town and 3 miles per gallon more efficient on the highway.

Source: James R. Healey, "Study Shows Car Safety Improving Without Government Rules," USA Today, March 21, 2001.

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