Air bags have been a possibility since 1952, but the American auto industry has stalled on their development for almost two decades. Now, thanks to federal regulations and public demand for safer cars, air bags will soon be a reality. American car manufacturers have begun phasing them in. More than 95% of the nation's casualty insurers favor full front-seat air bags as standard equipment in all cars, and many discount their rates to drivers using them. Manual or automatic belts are available in every car sold today. Despite their life-saving benefits, however, two states repealed their seat belt laws and only 55% of drivers say they buckle up regularly. An IIHS report indicates 99% of drivers of new Fords with automatic safety belts use them all the time, but less than 50% of the drivers of GM cars use their seat belts because their design makes them easy to disconnect. Many insurance firms encourage the use of seat belts, not by offering discounts, but by paying supplemental or double benefits at the time of a claim. Total protection is particularly important against drunken drivers. Some insurers have introduced incentives to stay sober, including partial premium paybacks and discounts. Most states are cracking down on drunken drivers in various ways--tougher penalties, banning "happy hours," setting night curfews for beginning drivers, or authorizing alcohol-check road blocks. At the same time, however, many are also raising the 55 mph speed limit in rural areas, despite the fact that NHTSA estimates the slower speed limit has saved 54,000 lives since 1974. In conclusion, this article points out additional recent technological advances which are making cars safer, including energy-absorbing steering wheels, high-mounted brake lights and plastic-lined windshields.

  • Availability:
  • Corporate Authors:

    Insurance Information Institute

    110 William Street
    New York, NY  United States  10038
  • Authors:
    • Gilleland, K
  • Publication Date: 1987-7

Media Info

  • Pagination: p. 22-24
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00493568
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Report/Paper Numbers: HS-040 274
  • Files: HSL, TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Apr 30 1990 12:00AM