Mercedes Belt Bag

Do new car safety features really help?

Mercedes rear seat belt bag makes us wonder if the automakers are past the point of diminishing returns.

Mercedes has announced in a press release that it will start to include the shoulder belt airbag in one of its “luxury” models soon (aren't they all?) Are wealthy businessmen riding in the back of SL’s dying in the streets? Has there even been a recorded case of person being killed in the back of a full size Mercedes while belted? As a father and citizen, this writer is all about safety. As a mechanical engineer and lifelong student of all things automotive, this writer would not buy a vehicle without modern life-saving safety equipment. The reality is however, that in the past five years, despite a huge roll-out of new gadgets, cameras, self-driving systems, and amazing new doo-dads, none of them seem to be saving anyone. Worse, they are starting to cloud our judgment of what actually does save lives and prevent accidents in the first place. A recent NHTSA study points out that many new systems don’t show any improvements in lives saved.


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While riding in, or driving a car, I am also, "all about safety." I admit, though, that my attitude seems to change when I get into a limo or even a taxi. I can't explain it, but I don't even pull out of my garage without my seatbelt, but I'll ride all over Manhattan in the back seat of a bobbing-and-weaving cab without my seatbelt. On the other hand, I sometimes wonder if the increases in safety equipment has a tendency to make us feel invulnerable, thus encouraging us to take risks that we would not have taken in that 1967 Impala 2-Door that we drove in high school.