Automotive safety standards

Tuesday, November 8, 2016
by Scott Campbell

William Gibson, the Canadian science-fiction writer, once said:

The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.

If you're unfamiliar with his work, particularly his early oeuvre, it usually features a near-future, vaguely dystopian world (or highly dystopian, depending on your point of view) that is divided between the elite, technologically wealthy "haves" and the vast technologically poor "have-nots". The latter group strives to reach the former, but various forces will conspire to prevent any disruption between these classes.

I couldn't help but think of this quote when I saw this video, produced by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

Remote video URL

The red car is a "2015 Nissan Tsuru, the least expensive sedan sold by Nissan in Mexico", and the grey car is a "2016 Nissan Versa, the least expensive sedan sold by Nissan in the United States." The Tsuru lacks air bags, anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control. It has a "zero-star safety rating from the Latin New Car Assessment Program", and has been linked to over 4000 deaths between 2007 and 2012.

Fortunately, Nissan will end production next year, but clearly, automotive safety features and standards are not very evenly distributed.  I wonder if this same path will be followed as self-driving cars are introduced?