From enforced dealership closures to a shift in online sales – the pandemic has taken a real toll on the automotive world. Now, a shortage in all-important semiconductor computer chips has meant yet another significant hit. In fact, with wait times predicted as long as twelve months for top manufacturers like Jaguar, this is causing some of the worst disruptions of all, and many safety precautions are being altogether cut to offset the damage.
Facilitated mainly by a surge in new car sales towards the end of 2020, these shortages are incredibly worrying, considering that computer chips are a fundamental aspect of the safety specs that many cars stretch to meet. Now, with manufacturers openly discarding the rule book for faster turnarounds, car owners have to ask themselves how to stay safe regardless.
What Are Safety Compromises Being Made?
Not all manufacturers are taking the safety-cutting route, but estimated losses of around $110 billion off the back of this shortage alone are sending many into panic overdrive. Sadly, safety seems like it’s the first thing to go in many cases. Specifically, features that car owners should be wary of may be missing in newer models include –
- Voice control
- Lane assist
- Parking sensors
- Automatic emergency braking
- Pedestrian and cyclist detection
- Post-collision braking
- And more
Admittedly, these may still seem relatively new features to many car owners, but it’s vital not to undermine the importance of losing precautions that we’ve not come to rely on. In fact, as the ways that we drive and rate our safest cars change based on these additions, suddenly going without could significantly impact our road safety overall.
What Models Are Affected?
As mentioned, not all car manufacturers are choosing to take this route, and there’s nothing to say that a new vehicle purchase will end in safety compromises of any kind. That said, some surprising safety omissions are being made by previous 5-star contenders, including Ford and Volvo. More worryingly, perhaps, these missing features mean that vehicles are being sold in areas like Europe without meeting Euro NCAP regulations, while five-star ratings remain in place to cause some consumer confusion. Perhaps the light at the end of this tunnel is the fact that lane assist features, at least, will need to be reinstated when they become mandatory in May 2022, regardless of ongoing shortages. That said, pre-approved vehicles like Ford’s Puma won’t have to comply with even this precaution until 2024.
What Does This Mean for Road Safety?
The main question on any driver’s lips right now is what exactly all of this means for road safety on the whole. After all, safety expectations have been significantly undermined by these issues, especially as regulations fail to narrow down on the manufacturers making the worst moves. In American markets, worries around significant profit losses have almost completely overshadowed what can only be described as a careless compromise. The situation is so dire that safety standard professionals urge consumers to hold off buying vehicles during this period. For buyers who can’t wait that long, safety looks as though it’s mainly going to come down to –
- Awareness: If you’re considering a new car purchase right now, it’s essential to be aware that this is happening, even when the information isn’t made evident. For example, the five-star rating still being worryingly attached to Ford Puma‘s isn’t relevant right now, and research is necessary to discover that fact. At least if you know what you’re getting into, you should be far better able to take the safety helm or make wiser purchasing decisions to stay safe regardless.
- Protection: Even for drivers not looking to buy right now, the launch of less safe cars on the road makes protection even more fundamental than ever before. If you’re driving in any capacity during this period, it’s therefore essential to invest in the best insurance and, in the case of an accident, find the car accident lawyer for you to ensure compensation as soon as possible.
- Alternatives: The pandemic has seen significant increases in second-hand car sales (costs were up 21% by the end of last year,) and safety compromises are yet again providing a push towards more recent second-hand models that include all the features necessary for driving safety.
How Long Shortages Are Likely to Last?
Unfortunately, uncertainty around how long shortages are likely to last put road safety even more at risk right now. Make sure that, if you do buy, you buy wisely to offset these rising worries.
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