There are 30,000 car deaths per year in the USA –which when reported sounds like an increase. In fact, as a proportion of the total population, car accident fatalities decrease year by year. It is under-reported that there are ten times as many injuries, and the ratio between fatalities and injuries has been widening since 1918 when records began.
Why? Because of safety features like the addition of steel in vehicles. No one wishes to diminish the exponential effects of safety features like airbags, but steel is an underrated addition to car safety. Not coincidentally the first steel made automobile was in 1918, where a steel beam was placed inside the car door to protect passengers from side-on collisions. Steel door latches help keep your car closed during a crash.
And of course the seatbelt is made from steel. Freakonomics wrote a paper of how major the effect of the seatbelt has been on safety- yet it would be impossible to measure. An in fairness, who would volunteer?
Steel has made financial sense as well. The bottom line is that to save a life with a seat belt costs $30,000; to save a life with an air bag costs $1.8 mm by our estimates. This makes seat belts an incredibly effective safety innovation. So in the insurer’s eyes, steel is a money saver as well as life saver.
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Siobhan R.// SMC Editor