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You can put a price on safety

Published On: Aug 29 2013 10:49:03 AM HST
Updated On: Aug 30 2013 05:24:16 AM HST
Tesla Model S

Tesla

By attorney Jason Neufeld, Special to THELAW.TV

Seems like the old saying "You can't put a price on safety" has been disproven. When driving, the cost of safety apparently starts at around $65,000 (and with all the options, the cost of safety can exceed $115,000).

Earlier this month, the Tesla Model S was awarded the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) top-safety award, five-stars in every auto-safety category and sub-category.

A primary reason for the five-star award is that the all-electric Tesla does not have a large gas-guzzling engine taking up all that crumple-room space. With the extra crumple space, there is more time for people inside the vehicles to slow down during an impact, minimizing injury-causing G-forces. If the optional third-row is ordered, the company installs a double-bumper, further insulating occupants from a rear-end collision.

The Tesla is mostly aluminum, reinforced with high-strength steel. It has eight airbags and rails installed that, according to the Tesla website, "are designed to absorb the energy of impact."

Another safety feature: this electric car is nearly impossible to roll over, mostly because the vehicle's 1,000-pound battery is attached to the bottom of the vehicle, creating a low center of gravity and, therefore, additional stability. Also, the Tesla's roof is almost uncrushable. In fact, it broke the NHTSA's testing machine.

The Tesla Model S is a four-door car. Yet, while inside one, you are less likely to be injured in almost every kind of car accident (rear enders, head-on, side collisions, even rollovers). This is especially impressive considering that the Tesla was compared to other larger automobiles that are traditionally considered safer, including minivans and SUVs tested by the NHTSA. It will be interesting to see how the Tesla Model X, their all-electric CUV/SUV (which has not yet been released in the United States) holds up in the safety tests.

Tesla also boasts very high-tech stability/traction control technology designed to give the driver a better handling and vehicle response, hopefully allowing the driver to avoid a collision in the first place. This is important because driving is a dangerous business. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of their last data collection, there are roughly 10.8 million auto accidents per year across the United States per annum. According to the NHTSA, approximately 33,000 of those are fatal. Statistics also show a growing trend in hit-and-run car accidents.

While the Tesla Model S is certainly an engineering marvel, let's hope the price of all that terrific engineering eventually comes down to a level where many more people can afford the price of safety. In fact, Tesla has announced that it is currently working on a new compact sedan model, with a range of 200 miles, which will start at around $35,000. No word yet on how safe this cheaper model will be. The author, Jason Neufeld, is a Miami personal injury lawyer and can be reached at jneufeld@nkplaw.com.

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