Auto manufacturers going overboard on "safety" technology? Complex and unreliable?

Soon they’ll all be bubble wrapped bumper cars.

"all these new safety features can’t be much of a problem, cars have been getting more reliable year after year, even as more and more requirements are met.

A non-issue."

Exactly, texases (and Whitey)!

Or, to repeat what I stated earlier in this thread:

Let us not confuse reliability of safety devices per se with reliability of safety devices on a brand with a…let’s just say…troubled history of reliability. While–in theory–the electronic bells & whistles involved in both comfort and safety devices are trouble-prone, I have NEVER had a failure of any electronic devices on any of my cars, up to and including odometer mileage of 120k+. However, I have not owned a Chrysler product since 1974…(Translation: The brand, and its overall reliability record, is most likely the most important factor in the reliability of these safety-related systems.

To be more specific, since the advent of modern electronic safety devices, I have owned a Ford, a Honda, and three Subarus. None of these cars ever had any issues with the electronic safety systems with which they were equipped.

I agree with those that believe that mandated safety standards are necessary, but I believe that they’ve become overly complex to the point of often being unreliable and are expensive to the point where new cars will become unobtainable to a large portion of what used to be the middle class. Excess mandates are also a bane to the industry, as they’re a serious obstacle to making vehicles globally available. Countless differences between EU regulations and ours, such as different taillight tint requirements, different standards for headrests dimensions, different crash tests, and even differences in hood requirements, combine to require manufacturers to make cars in more than one version to sell them globally. In some cases models available in the EU won’t comply with U.S. requirements and vice-versa. There has been an initiative to standardize, which even includes a (useless) UN commission, but it’s existed for a decade with zero progress.

It’s true that nobody would buy a car without seatbelts. But countless thousands would buy cars without ABS, stability Control, overspecced headrests, and countless other mandates. Right now all cars are required to have two outside mirrors (the requirements for which are different under the EU standard), yet a series of three or four rear facing cameras with a display screen can provide a much better view of the rear, without being visually affected adversely by rain, and perhaps without regulatory overkills those countless thousands would be able to afford a new car.

I think you are right on the money TSM. It’s a matter of proportion. Just because one set of safety features is good, that does not mean that adding even more is better.

It’s reasonable to be concerned. But to date cars are safer, reliability continues to improve, and (adjusting for inflation) cars are, if anything cheaper. I compared an '88 Accord to a 2013 Civic (same size) and inflation adjusted, the Civic was cheaper.

Let’s see, I paid about $11,000 for my Corolla in the early 90’s. So a Corolla now should cost – if it was the same price, except adjusted for inflation – about $18,000. Is that about what new Corollas cost these days? $18,000 for a new Corolla, manual xmission, no AC?

Yes, you are right @texases, a 2013 Corolla seems to cost about $16,500 now. So it is less expensive than in the early 90’s. It appears you get AC whether you want it or not on a 2013 Corolla, so if you want AC, its even that much less expensive than in the early 90’s.

The Camry is the most American car. The F-150 is the most American vehicle.

I think that cars are safer and better than they ever have been. Now I have made the argument that drum brakes were just fine, and they were back in their day. There are advantages and disadvantages of drum brakes. Now its because of the safety nazis we have disc brakes, airbags and seatbelts. Thats the problem, some people knock the new safety features, but where do we draw the line? I bet many knocked disc brakes when they came out.

I think cars are the best they ever have been, and they are a bargain!

I drove my friends old power wagon and it was a wakeup call, It wore me out after 5 miles!

Click and clack once said that long commutes were not common in the old days because no one could tolerate a long drive every day in a 1975 volare, its true.

People think all these safety features are an unnecessary expense and complain . . .

Until that airbag, electronic stability control, lane departure warning, etc. saves their bacon!

Years ago my brother was in an accident in which his car was a lot shorter afterwards

He was unhurt, because the airbag and pretensioners did their job

Without them, he would have cracked his skull, had a concussion and hundreds of stitches

The safety nannys reached the point of diminishing returns and continued on, unconcerned with good sense. The ‘dead man’ switch/brake on lawn mowers is indicative of ridiculous safety measures. My Snapper riding mower and my old MTD riding mowers were loaded with Rube Goldberg silliness. I won’t own a car that has handling controlled by a computer. Sky hooks give poor, inexperienced drivers confidence that gets them into more trouble than they would otherwise.

While the Feds mandate more and more safety features they allow the continued piling on of features and devices that distract the driver from the task at hand; eyes on the road.

I think the NHTSA unveiled some “guidelines” urging drivers to not be distracted more than 2 seconds or 12 seconds in accumulated time.

Probaby the latest example of convincing drivers they’re 10 feet tall and bulletproof involved a news story here during the recent El Reno tornado and OK City flooding.
A lady, with her son in the passenger seat, crossed some headlight deep water and stalled out.
The reporter on scene asked if she was alright and what happened. She stated that she thought she was out of gas and when the reporter asked if the problem might be due to 4 feet deep water instead her response was:

“It’s not the water. This is a Jeep Liberty and I’ve got 4WD…”. She’s invincible in her mind.

All those safety devices often save the bad drivers from themselves . . .

it sort of puts a halt on Darwinism-Kevin

I’m afraid I don’t understand what some of you are complaining about. All of the safety features on cars were once optional, and the American consumer public endorsed them. They became standard features because that is what the car buying public at large wanted, and the government officials that made them mandatory are either elected or work under elected officials. This is how our system of government and our free market are designed to work.

Furthermore, if what you desire are the risks associated with the era in which Ralph Nader published Unsafe and Any Speed, you can still have those risks. You can still ride a motorcycle without a helmet is many states and you can buy or build a custom car or street legal dune buggy.

All this whining about the nanny state and “safety nazis” has me wondering what happened to your sense of individual initiative and innovation. If you don’t want your family to ride in vehicles with modern safety equipment, strap them into a restored classic car or a street legal dune buggy with a custom body attached. Earn yourself and your family that Darwin Award you seem to be pining for. The only thing stopping you is you.

While the Feds mandate more and more safety features they allow the continued piling on of features and devices that distract the driver from the task at hand; eyes on the road.

Good point. We have more and more devices that are so distracting to every day driving.

FWIW, the myriad of high tech gizmos, including the potential cocoon of air bags, evokes no great sense of invincibility for me when driving a current generation automobile. But of course I’m old and set in my ways and hope that continuing to drive conservatively and defensively will keep me out of trouble in my pre-airbag trucks.

But of course I'm old and set in my ways and hope that continuing to drive conservatively and defensively will keep me out of trouble in my pre-airbag trucks.

You can drive as carefully as you want…but that doesn’t mean you can’t get into a serious accident. Good friend of mine was driving home from work on I-93 a few years ago…and was hit from behind by an idiot in a Corvette doing over 120. All the safe driving in the world didn’t protect him…but the multiple air-bags and good crash designed vehicle surely did. He was lucky to be alive. If he was in a vehicle that was even 20 years older…I’m convinced he wouldn’t be here today.

But might the “safety czars” find it more beneficial to limit the power to weight and top speed of automobiles to avoid such potential catastrophes, Mike? I don’t understand why state motor vehicle regulations allow owners to jack up their trucks? A lifted truck on huge tires handles poorly and the braking is severely compromised while the height of the bumper makes for a good battering ram on even old full sized sedans. Why does the “nanny state” wish to force me to buy a cocoon while they turn a blind eye to those who are the predominant cause of mayhem?

Wow. That’s a great question, Rod. I believe the answer lies in the immense lobbying power of the auto industry.

If the government really wanted us to not speed, the answer would be simple. They could govern all cars at the highest legal speed limit in the country, or do like the trucking companies and govern all vehicles in a way that the governor can be adjusted remotely based on the current speed limit.

I don't understand why state motor vehicle regulations allow owners to jack up their trucks?

In MOST states you’re NOT allowed to. Here in NH and MA there are strict laws against it…HOWEVER…it’s rarely enforced. Especially since two cops in our town have lifted trucks that are well above the required limits.