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Safety paradox: More technology means more totaled cars

Cars today are bristling with new safety systems - technology meant to help you avoid a crash or survive it. But expanded use of those systems has created a consequence that might surprise you: If you're in a crash in such a car, your insurance company is more likely to total it.

So says Automotive News (subscription required), which spoke with Bob Tschippert, senior vice president of Dallas-based underwriter Risk Theory. He pointed out that these systems are expensive to repair or replace in the aftermath of a crash, making it more likely your carrier will declare your car a total loss.

"In the past, if you had a front-end collision, you had damage to the engine or the front end," Tschippert told Automotive News. "But now, with the number of airbags that can run from $1,000 up to $4,000 and all the sensors up front, you're seeing more totals."

Makes sense, considering the increased number of airbag locations and the array of sensors at the leading edge of a fully-decked-out modern car - for pedestrian detection, emergency braking, lane keeping, adaptive cruise control, parking and more.

The report goes on to mention that the massive Takata airbag recall also plays a role. With a backlog of cars awaiting replacement airbags, insurance companies might be inclined to perform triage on crash-damaged vehicles.

Another factor: The increase in recent years of miles driven and the problem of distracted driving, which of course has led to more traffic accidents (along with more fatalities and injuries).

The winner in this trend toward totaling? Salvage auctions, of course.

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