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Lack of Tort Reform May Discourage Auto Safety Devices

A number of auto safety devices that are standard or optional equipment on vehicles in Europe have not been introduced in the United States and...
April 27, 2004

A number of auto safety devices that are standard or optional equipment on vehicles in Europe have not been introduced in the United States and our lack of tort reform may be to blame. That was one topic of discussion at an April 21 meeting of Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety. PIA is a member of the board of the group.

Michael Sanders, the global director for automotive safety for DuPont Performance Materials, told the board some of the technologies were the side curtain airbags, laminated glass, radar-based rear obstacle detection, rear view camera systems, anti-trap technology for windows, an advanced rear seat belt reminder and pretensioning seatbelts.  Sanders said many of these products are standard or optional equipment in Europe, with high penetration in the European market but limited, if any, penetration in the American market.

The group felt our litigious society, the contingency fee system and our court system are reasons such safety equipment is not available in the US and why most of the suppliers are in Europe. One way to mitigate the likelihood of litigation is to have carefully drawn regulatory standards so that consumers cannot sue auto companies for failure to use such equipment in the past. The group felt that availability of such equipment as standard equipment (OEM) on U.S. cars is probably dependent on tort reform.

A new member of the board of Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety is PIA-CCEO member David Skove, General Manager for Agent Sales for Progressive Insurance.

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