The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Study Says Automotive Safety Technologies Take Average of 30 Years Before Available in 95% of Vehicles

January 30, 2012

ARLINGTON, VA – The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) issued a report that offers statistics on just how long it takes before automakers widely adopt automotive safety technologies.

Although it may seem like some technologies have been around forever, the HLDI found it typically takes an average of 30 years for an advanced safety feature introduced in luxury cars to become a standard or optional feature on 95% of the vehicles on the road.

The HLDI cited frontal airbags as an example. Although the auto industry began offering these airbags on a number of vehicles in the mid-1980s, 95% of vehicles on the road won’t have frontal airbags until 2016. The study also said forward collision warning, originally rolled out in 2000, could take even longer to hit the 95% mark, not until 2049, HLDI stated.

“Technology is changing fast, but it takes time for it to reach the majority of vehicles,” said Matthew Moore, an author of the report and vice president of HLDI, an Institute affiliate. “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.”

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) will take 34 years before showing up in 95% of vehicles driven. HLDI said the next group of features that are seeing widespread adoption, side airbags and antilock brakes, will take 31 years to hit 95%, according to HLDI estimates.

Some features became more widely available faster than others, for example side airbags only took 10 years to become available in 25% of registered vehicles, and five more years to hit 50% of vehicles. ESC hit 25% in 16 years and HLDI expects it to take another four years to hit 50%.

The HLDI said federal mandates and safety ratings that favor specific safety features are a couple of factors that can speed up the rate of feature technology adoption.

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