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A lot of the safety-related weight is non-negotiable, at least in the US. Every new car sold has a lot of airbags, and while they aren't mandatory, it's impossible to earn a good safety rating (from the NHTSA, a government agency) without them. So you could say the added "safety weight" (and drag, since the airbags make the car bigger on the outside to preserve cabin space) has been partially regulated into existence.

At some point in the future, I hope the NHTSA takes in "probability of crash" into their safety ratings for self-driving vehicles. Otherwise the safety bloat in modern cars will stick around. The equivalent of wearing a motorcycle full-face helmet while riding a bicycle.

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