Why isn't safety technology standard on all brand new vehicles?
Ashley Hyshka and Ross McLaughlin, CTV News Vancouver
Published Wednesday, July 10, 2019 6:00AM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 10, 2019 7:17PM PDT
You never expect it to happen to you, but more than nine out of every 10 car crashes are due to driver error.
Whether it’s driving while intoxicated, texting on a cell phone or fatigue, safety technologies such as forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking can help avoid fatal crashes.
But only 48 per cent of 2019 U.S. model cars include these safety features as standard on their vehicles. In Canada, this technology is not standard at all under Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
Research shows it’s effective at preventing accidents, injuries and fatalities. But often, consumers have to pay extra for this technology to be included in their vehicles. These systems can cost upwards of $2,500 or more as a package option on your new vehicle.
In a statement to CTV News Vancouver, Transport Canada said it is “taking action on safety measures that fall within federal jurisdiction, such as pilot projects on detection and visibility systems, and exploring potential regulatory action concerning automatic emergency braking systems and advanced driver assist systems.”
Transport Canada added that it’s “launched on-road field trials, in collaboration with provincial, territorial and municipal partners, to evaluate the effectiveness of enhanced detection and visibility systems on a range of vehicles.”
But experts want this life saving technology standard on all brand new vehicles.
“We think these technologies are so important that they factor into our ratings. We’d like more vehicles to have these safety features as standard equipment and unfortunately the roll out has been slow,” said Jeff Plungis, Consumer Reports auto editor.
And Consumer Reports says slow-to-market safety technology is all too common. It can take years for this technology to become standard.
In 1956 Consumer Reports tested the effectiveness of seatbelts, but it took more than 10 years for the U.S. government to make it standard equipment on all vehicles.
Each province is responsible for its own seatbelt legislation, with Ontario being the first to pass mandatory seat belt legislation in 1976 and other provinces and territories following suit over the next 15 years. They save about 1,000 lives nationwide each year.
Even today, seatbelt technology is continuing to evolve with passenger safety at the forefront.
“Two parts of the seatbelt that really work during a crash are the pre-tensioner and the limiter,” said Plungis. “The pre-tensioner pulls the belt tight during the crash so you don’t fly forward and the load limiter lets out a little bit of slack as that’s happening so that as you’re flying into the seatbelt you don’t get hurt by the belt."
Statistics shows that over 1,800 people were killed in car crashes on Canadian roads in 2017 and 276 of those fatalities occurred in British Columbia.
"All this great technology isn’t standard on all cars. We need to find ways to save lives. It shouldn’t be a luxury option,” said Plungis.
Remember to slow down and buckle up!