But only if you can afford the expensive brands – Car crashes kill more Americans between the ages of 1 and 45 than any other cause. Improvements in motor vehicle safety have been recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as ranking among the 20th century’s top public health achievements, BUT a recent study seems to show that the improvements aren’t benefiting all segments of the population equally. The reason? Some people can’t afford to buy fancy new cars.

Social scientist Deborah Girasek says, “Vehicle safety advances have saved hundreds of thousands of lives in recent decades. What we found was that people in lower socioeconomic groups don’t enjoy the same access to these improvements as their wealthy counterparts, most likely because of how our society introduces protective technology into the vehicle market.” In other words, safety advances are first offered on luxury vehicles, at the discretion of automobile manufacturers. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) may eventually mandate that a safety feature be included on all new vehicles, after an extended process of Federal rulemaking and production phase-in. And people who buy used cars don’t benefit from these advances until the safer models “trickle down” to the used car market, which usually takes about 12 years.

Girasek studied vehicles registered in Maryland zip codes that represented a range of household incomes, and found that as median household incomes increased, so did the proportion of vehicles that came equipped with side airbags and electronic stability control as standard equipment. Vehicles registered in upper income areas were also newer, on average, and more likely to have received a Good or Acceptable crash test rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Girasek says, “These results may not be surprising, but we believe this is the first time that this traffic safety advantage has been documented. It seems unlikely that we would accept levels of crash protection that were tied to product price in other modes of transportation. Suppose, for example, that in addition to free drinks and wider seats, first class airline tickets came with better odds of surviving a plane crash?”

An old adage says that “The poor will always be with us,” but in this Automobile Age, maybe it’s really the RICH!

If you’re not rich and you’re looking for a fun and AFFORDABLE vacation this summer, come have a drink with Jim Marrs and a reading from Marla Frees at our Dreamland Festival in Nashville on June 25-27!

Art credit: Deamstime.com

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