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Jens Meyer / AP

New cars packed with high-tech safety gear designed to help prevent crashes are leading to soaring insurance costs, the Wall Street Journal found. Safety features, such as built-in braking systems and tech that prevents drivers from drifting out of lanes, are becoming increasingly available, but as the WSJ notes, "progress comes with a price":

  • "Enabling the safety tech are cameras, sensors, microprocessors and other hardware whose repair costs can be more than five times that of conventional parts. And the equipment is often located in bumpers, fenders and external mirrors—the very spots that tend to get hit in a crash."
  • Only a fraction of buyers are currently opting for the new tech, "as a result, replacement parts are disproportionately expensive... Insurance companies, unwilling to shoulder all the pain, are passing some of the cost off to buyers."

Why this matters: High-tech cars could make driving conditions safer, but as of now, the costs of repairs are not outweighing the benefits of their potential safety protections for insurance companies. Some insurers estimate 25% to 50% of all vehicles will have to integrate the new tech before accident rates decline enough to offset higher repair costs.

Go deeper

Kevin McCarthy's rude awakening

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy is learning you can get torched when you try to make everyone happy, especially after an insurrection.

Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

The next big political war: redistricting

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are preparing a mix of tech and legal strategies to combat expected gerrymandering by Republicans, who are planning to go on legal offense themselves.

Why it matters: Democrats failed to regain a single state legislature on Election Day, while Republicans upped their control to 30 states' Houses and Senates. In the majority of states, legislatures draw new congressional district lines, which can boost a party's candidates for the next decade.

33 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Vaccinations, relief timing dominate Sweet 16 call

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks during a news conference in December with a group of bipartisan lawmakers. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of 16 senators, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.