How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

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White Coat Investor
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How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by White Coat Investor »

We often have discussions on this board about buying new vs used cars. The "new" advocates often cite increased safety features as one benefit of this approach. The recent National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration Notes actually quantified this.

In calendar year 2008, improvements made AFTER the introduction of the model year 2000 fleet saved 2,000 lives, prevented the crash of 700,000 cars, and prevented or mitigated the injuries of 1 million occupants. Put another way, 200,000 crashes of the 9 million crashes that year could have been prevented if all vehicles in the fleet had had at least the level of safety improvements found in the model year 2008 fleet. In addition, injuries of 300,000 of their 12 million occupants would have been prevented or mitigated, including saving 600 lives. The likelihood of crashing per 100,000 miles of driving has decreased from 30% (year 2000 car) to 25% (year 2008 car.) The likelihood of escaping a crash uninjured has improved from 79% to 82% as a result of improvements occurring from 2000 to 2008.

We have gone from 1.55 persons killed and 120 injured per 100 million vehicle miles driven to 1.14 persons killed and 75 persons per 100 million vehicle miles driven.

While the risk of dying or being injured in a car accident was already quite low in 2000, the relative reduction attributed to improved safety systems in cars is quite impressive. Maybe those suckers buying new every 3 years aren't as dumb as they look.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by Sidney »

Cell phone jammer would be a good improvement.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by jlawrence01 »

I believe that the real game changers - the collapsible steering column, seat belts, shoulder harnesses, and structural integrity of the passenger capsule - occurred in the late 60s and early 70s. Those changes made huge differences in the number of people killed in auto accidents. They also did not add a tremendous amount to the cost of vehicles. I have to admit that I do not fee particularly safe in vehicles of the 60s.

While it is great that the industry is continuously looking for ways to create the safest vehicles, these changes are starting to add significantly to the acquisition cost of the vehicle, insurance and maintenance. As cars increase in price, many families are priced out of the new car market. Also, should you be unfortunate to have an accident in a smaller car, it is likely that your car will be totaled out due to the loss of the airbags

I know that this runs counter to the "we'll spend anything to save a life" mentality that many have these days.

Personally, I would like to see more focus on the following:

1) Improved driver training. In some states, the requirements of getting a license is minimal.
2) Increased enforcement of DUI laws - In some states, a DUI conviction gets a 90 day license suspension. In many states, you cannot revoke a license until the 5th conviction.
3) Distracted drivers - I think that there is some value to a cell phone merit that is activated when the engine is running.

There are no vehicles produced in the past ten years for the US market that I would feel unsafe in.
crake
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by crake »

As someone who spends a lot of time on a bike and walking I get nervous that people will get more and more complacent about how dangerous driving a car is. There are now commercials on TV advertising people in cars playing with the radio, talking to kids, etc who are saved from an accident by the car. I fear that this is sending the message that distracted driving is ok. Features such as VSA and ABS certainly make cars safer as well, however, I have similar fears. Do these features encourage people to drive faster during inclement weather?

People need to keep in mind that they are driving a 1-3 ton hunk of steel at 70 mph. This should be regarded as a risky endeavor for the occupants of the vehicle and those around it.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by bungalow10 »

crake wrote:As someone who spends a lot of time on a bike and walking I get nervous that people will get more and more complacent about how dangerous driving a car is. There are now commercials on TV advertising people in cars playing with the radio, talking to kids, etc who are saved from an accident by the car. I fear that this is sending the message that distracted driving is ok. Features such as VSA and ABS certainly make cars safer as well, however, I have similar fears. Do these features encourage people to drive faster during inclement weather?

People need to keep in mind that they are driving a 1-3 ton hunk of steel at 70 mph. This should be regarded as a risky endeavor for the occupants of the vehicle and those around it.
+1

The biggest safety improvement for me has been telecommuting. No more driving to the office during snow/ice storms.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by stoptothink »

jlawrence01 wrote:I believe that the real game changers - the collapsible steering column, seat belts, shoulder harnesses, and structural integrity of the passenger capsule - occurred in the late 60s and early 70s. Those changes made huge differences in the number of people killed in auto accidents. They also did not add a tremendous amount to the cost of vehicles. I have to admit that I do not fee particularly safe in vehicles of the 60s.

While it is great that the industry is continuously looking for ways to create the safest vehicles, these changes are starting to add significantly to the acquisition cost of the vehicle, insurance and maintenance. As cars increase in price, many families are priced out of the new car market. Also, should you be unfortunate to have an accident in a smaller car, it is likely that your car will be totaled out due to the loss of the airbags

I know that this runs counter to the "we'll spend anything to save a life" mentality that many have these days.

Personally, I would like to see more focus on the following:

1) Improved driver training. In some states, the requirements of getting a license is minimal.
2) Increased enforcement of DUI laws - In some states, a DUI conviction gets a 90 day license suspension. In many states, you cannot revoke a license until the 5th conviction.
3) Distracted drivers - I think that there is some value to a cell phone merit that is activated when the engine is running.

There are no vehicles produced in the past ten years for the US market that I would feel unsafe in.
Totally agree. I love all the new technology, but the extra cost is pricing people out of the market; another factor is the average weight of vehicles has significantly increased, which has a major effect on efficiency. Without a doubt, the most important factors in vehicle safety are driver's skill and driving without being distracted. Based upon a random Google search, ~40% of car accidents involve cell phones or alcohol.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by nisiprius »

Not to undervalue later improvements, but it does seem to me that a little tip of the hat might be due to Cornell University, the Automotive Crash Injury Research Center, and John O. Moore. If I knew more I would probably be aware of numerous rival claimants but certainly my impression is certainly that one lab in one university deserves an awful lot of credit for the huge improvements in vehicle safety that have been made between, say, 1950 and 1970. The "Cornell Safety Car" was both admired and derided at the time, famously by Marshall McLuhan, who said "Soon we will all be driving around in padded cells." Some of its innovations, such as rear-facing passenger seats, have never (or not yet) been adopted.

When I was a little kid there were no seatbelts. I would sit on the front bench seat of the car, and if my mom had to make a sudden stop for any reason she would fling out her right arm and hold it rigidly in front of me, I suppose in the belief that it would protect me. Fortunately it never had to be put to the test. Although, come to think of it, the dashboard was made of metal, unpadded, and full of protruding decorative ridges, knobs, latches--everything in a car protruded in those days--and I suppose there might have been mild collisions in which an arm in between me and that dashboard might have made a difference.

If memory serves me--memory of something I read, as this was before my time--windshield wipers only became available on cars as a result of government regulation, and were fought by manufacturers as an unnecessary extra cost at the time. Certainly seat belts were. I am trying to remember just how much carmakers said seatbelts would add to the price of a car.

The first seat belts were just lap belts, of course. Shoulder belts came later, and carmakers griped about their cost, too.

Oh, and a great book called The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighway, by Earl Swift, reminds me that when you are adding up the goods and bads of the Interstate, one thing to put on the positive side is a huge reduction in fatalities per mile of travel, about a factor of three if I recall correctly.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by technovelist »

crake wrote:As someone who spends a lot of time on a bike and walking I get nervous that people will get more and more complacent about how dangerous driving a car is. There are now commercials on TV advertising people in cars playing with the radio, talking to kids, etc who are saved from an accident by the car. I fear that this is sending the message that distracted driving is ok. Features such as VSA and ABS certainly make cars safer as well, however, I have similar fears. Do these features encourage people to drive faster during inclement weather?

People need to keep in mind that they are driving a 1-3 ton hunk of steel at 70 mph. This should be regarded as a risky endeavor for the occupants of the vehicle and those around it.
Yes, complacency is a real problem:

"It's called the Peltzman Effect, a generally accepted principle that suggests that as people feel safer they take on greater risk. People have a set tolerance level for risk and adjust their behavior accordingly. Build a high-impact football helmet, and players will ram their heads harder. Improve car safety, and people will drive faster."

http://money.msn.com/auto-insurance/saf ... rance.aspx
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by RNJ »

For us (a family with two small children), purchase of a new car always begins with crash test data and safety ratings. We have been willing to pay a "safety premium".
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by tadamsmar »

RNJ wrote:For us (a family with two small children), purchase of a new car always begins with crash test data and safety ratings. We have been willing to pay a "safety premium".
FYI (I am not sure everyone reads the "fine print"):
Since the frontal crash test reflects a crash between two similar vehicles, only vehicles from the same weight class, plus or minus 250 pounds, can be compared when looking at frontal crash ratings
http://www.safercar.gov/Vehicle+Shoppers/5-Star+FAQ

More on this at:

http://www.informedforlife.org
Last edited by tadamsmar on Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by tadamsmar »

jlawrence01 wrote:I believe that the real game changers - the collapsible steering column, seat belts, shoulder harnesses, and structural integrity of the passenger capsule - occurred in the late 60s and early 70s. Those changes made huge differences in the number of people killed in auto accidents. They also did not add a tremendous amount to the cost of vehicles. I have to admit that I do not fee particularly safe in vehicles of the 60s.
If you become informed about electronic stability control (ESC), you will find that this is not completely true. ESC is a real game changer and it was introduced after 1995:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic ... ty_control

It prevents about 1/3 of fatalities. It only cost about $250 per vehicle (assuming anti-lock brakes (ABS) were already installed). But, during the pre-2012 period, some manufacturers bundled it with a higher trim (sub-model or package) and did not make it available as a standalone option.

It has been standard since the 2012 model year. Anyone considering buying a pre-2012 used car should be aware of ESC:

http://epicurusgarden.blogspot.com/2011 ... h-esc.html

ESC takes advantage of the ability of ABS to independently brake all four tires. It adds a steering position sensor and a MEMS gyroscope to detect the onset of sideways skidding (oversteer and understeer) and prevent skidding in many cases.

Ironically, sideways skidding makes cars sell so lots of car commercials still include it. They probably had to turn ESC off to make it easier to get the car to skid.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

jlawrence01 wrote:I know that this runs counter to the "we'll spend anything to save a life" mentality that many have these days.
We have and will continue to spend quite a bit to save the life of a family member. It might be non-PC to say so, but the lives of my family matter more to me than the lives of strangers.
Personally, I would like to see more focus on the following:

1) Improved driver training. In some states, the requirements of getting a license is minimal.
2) Increased enforcement of DUI laws - In some states, a DUI conviction gets a 90 day license suspension. In many states, you cannot revoke a license until the 5th conviction.
3) Distracted drivers - I think that there is some value to a cell phone merit that is activated when the engine is running.
Agree. I've been thinking about a defensive driving course for he family. Know of any near NJ?
There are no vehicles produced in the past ten years for the US market that I would feel unsafe in.
They are better than they were, but many of them don't seem so safe to me. I hope that my impression is mistaken.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by tadamsmar »

jlawrence01 wrote: There are no vehicles produced in the past ten years for the US market that I would feel unsafe in.
I think that's the answer to the wrong question.

The right question is "If I am in the market for a car produced in the last 10 years, can I use available information to end up with a significantly safer car at little or no increase in costs?" The answer is "Yes".
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by Imperabo »

Pretty much the only reason I'm inclined to replace my 2000 CR-V. I just can't believe how expensive the vehicles I'm interested in have gotten though.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by Yipee-Ki-O »

It matters a lot to me. And more every year the older I get. Nobody gets out of here alive but I'd like to delay the inevitable as long as possible. I've always thought dying on the job would be a very cruel twist of fate...dying while driving to get somewhere ranks a close second.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by YttriumNitrate »

tadamsmar wrote:If you become informed about electronic stability control (ESC), you will find that this is not completely true. ESC is a real game changer and it was introduced after 1995: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic ... ty_control It prevents about 1/3 of fatalities. It only cost about $250 per vehicle (assuming anti-lock brakes (ABS) were already installed).
Doing a quick search it looks like where ESC really shines is rollovers where "it reduces the risk of fatal single-vehicle rollovers of SUVs by 80 percent, 77 percent for cars." (Quote). However, roughly 80% of people killed in rollovers are not wearing their seat belts. So, ESC is really great if you don't wear your seat belt, but among people who wear their seat belts the safety improvement is not going to be that dramatic.
Last edited by YttriumNitrate on Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by Dave76 »

Safety is in fashion these days, with every automaker jumping on the bandwagon.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

YttriumNitrate wrote:
tadamsmar wrote:If you become informed about electronic stability control (ESC), you will find that this is not completely true. ESC is a real game changer and it was introduced after 1995: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic ... ty_control It prevents about 1/3 of fatalities. It only cost about $250 per vehicle (assuming anti-lock brakes (ABS) were already installed).
Doing a quick search it looks like where ESC really shines is rollovers where "it reduces the risk of fatal single-vehicle rollovers of SUVs by 80 percent, 77 percent for cars." (Quote). However, roughly 80% of people killed in rollovers are not wearing their seat belts. So, ESC is really great if you don't wear your seat belt, but among people who wear their seat belts the safety improvement is not going to be that dramatic.
My kids always wear their seat belts, so I am not too worried about their car rolling over... :confused I lied; I still much prefer that their cars not roll over.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

Dave76 wrote:Safety is in fashion these days, with every automaker jumping on the bandwagon.
I hear that many people have given up smoking also. What's next?
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by Swivelguy »

EmergDoc wrote:While the risk of dying or being injured in a car accident was already quite low in 2000, the relative reduction attributed to improved safety systems in cars is quite impressive.
Really? Driving is the fifth leading cause of all deaths, and by far the largest cause of preventable deaths.

The real safety improvement to cars would come from cultural and city planning changes that result in us spending a lot less time in them.

Dave76 wrote:Safety is in fashion these days, with every automaker jumping on the bandwagon.
Certainly this means that we are nearing the top of the safety bubble! :wink:
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by Quickfoot »

Just because it is the fifth leading cause of death doesn't mean it is likely to happen, only that it is somewhat likely to be the cause of death in the unlikely event death does occur.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by Ged »

The fifth leading cause is all unintentional accidents. Only 1/3 of those are automobile accidents.

If automobile accidents were a separate category they would have significantly lower ranking.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by tadamsmar »

YttriumNitrate wrote:
tadamsmar wrote:If you become informed about electronic stability control (ESC), you will find that this is not completely true. ESC is a real game changer and it was introduced after 1995: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic ... ty_control It prevents about 1/3 of fatalities. It only cost about $250 per vehicle (assuming anti-lock brakes (ABS) were already installed).
Doing a quick search it looks like where ESC really shines is rollovers where "it reduces the risk of fatal single-vehicle rollovers of SUVs by 80 percent, 77 percent for cars." (Quote). However, roughly 80% of people killed in rollovers are not wearing their seat belts. So, ESC is really great if you don't wear your seat belt, but among people who wear their seat belts the safety improvement is not going to be that dramatic.
Seat belts certainly help people survive rollovers. But ESC typically prevents the accident. You don't just survive. You don't just completely avoid all injury. You don't just avoid the rollover. You typically drive on without a scratch on your vehicle.

Also, the data is from the fleet of cars on the road all of which were equipped with seat belts. I am not sure how the percentages you quote would change if everyone wore seat belts, but of course the total number of lives lost would be lower.
Last edited by tadamsmar on Thu Oct 24, 2013 7:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by Blue »

jlawrence01 wrote: While it is great that the industry is continuously looking for ways to create the safest vehicles, these changes are starting to add significantly to the acquisition cost of the vehicle, insurance and maintenance. As cars increase in price, many families are priced out of the new car market. Also, should you be unfortunate to have an accident in a smaller car, it is likely that your car will be totaled out due to the loss of the airbags

I know that this runs counter to the "we'll spend anything to save a life" mentality that many have these days.
Your post fails to mention the economic benefit of reducing number and severity of vehicle accidents, let alone the impact at a personal/family level.

Every vehicle purchase for us involves a detailed study of the available safety data. Vehicle safety should receive more emphasis than it typically does in vehicle selection IMO.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by LadyGeek »

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (vehicle safety).
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by lostInFinance »

If you go into the study, I think it paints a more complex picture than just the executive summary. If you look at table 4-3, it shows that drivers of 1980 vehicles are less likely to be in a crash than drivers of 2008 vehicles.

http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811572.pdf
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by stlutz »

We still have a ways to go to catch up with other developed countries:

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_m ... cle-deaths
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by wshang »

nisiprius wrote:When I was a little kid there were no seatbelts. I would sit on the front bench seat of the car, and if my mom had to make a sudden stop for any reason she would fling out her right arm and hold it rigidly in front of me, I suppose in the belief that it would protect me.
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lostInFinance
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by lostInFinance »

EmergDoc wrote: While the risk of dying or being injured in a car accident was already quite low in 2000, the relative reduction attributed to improved safety systems in cars is quite impressive. Maybe those suckers buying new every 3 years aren't as dumb as they look.
Your conclusion doesn't really follow from the study. By the study's own assessment, safety systems in cars saved 2000 lives. That means the persons killed per 100 million miles would have been 1.32 instead of 1.26 without the safety improvement from 2000-2008 in 2008. That means the study attributes only 23% of the 2000-2008 decline in fatalities to safety improvements in vehicles.

http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by White Coat Investor »

Swivelguy wrote:
EmergDoc wrote:While the risk of dying or being injured in a car accident was already quite low in 2000, the relative reduction attributed to improved safety systems in cars is quite impressive.
Really? Driving is the fifth leading cause of all deaths, and by far the largest cause of preventable deaths.
That's absolutely nuts. No way is driving the fifth leading cause of all deaths. In my state it's behind prescription drug overdoses. I'm not sure of the exact definition of preventable death, but I doubt it is even the leading cause of that.

Look, there's a google page titled Leading causes of death. Here they are:


Heart disease: 597,689
Cancer: 574,743
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 138,080
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 129,476
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 120,859
Alzheimer's disease: 83,494
Diabetes: 69,071
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,476
Influenza and Pneumonia: 50,097
Intentional self-harm (suicide): 38,364

Hmm.....not auto accidents there. Now, which of these are preventable....I'd say a lot of the first category, a lot of the second category, most of the third category, a lot of the 4th category. Then there's the fifth category "accidents." Keep in mind this isn't just auto accidents. I suspect most of these are Granny slipping on the floor and hitting her head while taking coumadin, but there's probably some decent car accidents there.

Another sources says there were 25,000 auto accident deaths. So that puts it behind Alzeheimer's, Diabetes, Nephritis, Influenza and Pneumonia (and probably both of them if separated), and suicide. Surely you consider suicide a "preventable" cause of death, no?
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by MindBogler »

tadamsmar wrote:
RNJ wrote:For us (a family with two small children), purchase of a new car always begins with crash test data and safety ratings. We have been willing to pay a "safety premium".
FYI (I am not sure everyone reads the "fine print"):
Since the frontal crash test reflects a crash between two similar vehicles, only vehicles from the same weight class, plus or minus 250 pounds, can be compared when looking at frontal crash ratings
http://www.safercar.gov/Vehicle+Shoppers/5-Star+FAQ

More on this at:

http://www.informedforlife.org
mv^2/2 strikes again...

I am honestly dismayed that people think a "five star frontal crash rated <insert 4 door sedan>" would ever stand up to a collision versus a 4 door F-150, Tundra, Silverado, etc. A collision with a vehicle of 2x mass at equal speed imparts twice the energy. I'm sure if we have any public safety persons present, they will have seen the effects first hand.

The best thing you can ever do to be safe while driving is always be on defense. The car you're driving is largely irrelevant. Keep your distance, stop tailgating, use your signals and for the love of John Bogle and indexing please use your side mirrors and check your blind spot! I don't know how many potential accidents I've avoided because people tried to change into my lane without looking. If I had a share of IJS for every time, I'd probably be on the Forbes 400. :D
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by umfundi »

It is true that vehicle deaths have been on a downward trajectory for decades. I worked at GM with many crash safety engineers who believe they are on the side of the angels in terms of protecting human life. At the time I was there, GM had the world's largest supercomputer system of any commercial company, and 80% of the resource was used for crash simulations. Those engineers believe they can reduce fatalities to zero, over time.

I would not buy a car, new or used, without looking at the crash safety ratings. That said, size (mass) matters. In a crash, the lighter vehicle will come off worst. That is physics, not vehicle design.

I agree with many of the other posters, think about how to reduce your exposure. Drive less.

And, the number of people in the USA killed in automobile accidents is roughly the same as those who die from influenza. Did you get your flu shot yet?

By the way, my father (of the old school) refused to ride in an original Beetle, because the gas tank was in front, and he refused to wear a seat belt because it was safer to be "thrown free" in a rollover.

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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by TheGreyingDuke »

jlawrence01 wrote: 2) Increased enforcement of DUI laws - In some states, a DUI conviction gets a 90 day license suspension. In many states, you cannot revoke a license until the 5th conviction..
I have been involved in the rehabilitation of DUI offenders for many years and am aware of the laws in many, not all, the states. My experience is that suspensions start much sooner, usually on the first offense, there are Federal funds that provide incentives for states. In Vermont, first offense gets you 90 day suspension, second is 18 months and a third offense gets you a LIFETIME suspension
Do you have a source for this assertion??

The real problem with DUI is not the length of suspension but the poor enforcement. Some old estimates indicate that fewer than 1 out of every 750 offenders are arrested. Increase the certainty that you will be arrested (Sweden for example) and compliance to the law goes up, increased penalties assume a thinking mind and by time the decision is made to get behind thee wheel under the influence, the mind isn't thinking!
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by Blue »

MindBogler wrote: mv^2/2 strikes again...

D

We have made special efforts to purchase cars with forward collision prevention/braking systems with the same formula in mind. Even a small reduction in vehicle velocity at time of collision significantly reduces k.e.

IIHS recently rated 7 manufacturers crash avoidance systems with a range of performance. Not all are created the same.
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Blue
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by Blue »

EmergDoc wrote:
Swivelguy wrote:
EmergDoc wrote:While the risk of dying or being injured in a car accident was already quite low in 2000, the relative reduction attributed to improved safety systems in cars is quite impressive.
Really? Driving is the fifth leading cause of all deaths, and by far the largest cause of preventable deaths.
That's absolutely nuts. No way is driving the fifth leading cause of all deaths. In my state it's behind prescription drug overdoses. I'm not sure of the exact definition of preventable death, but I doubt it is even the leading cause of that.

Look, there's a google page titled Leading causes of death. Here they are:


Heart disease: 597,689
Cancer: 574,743
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 138,080
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 129,476
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 120,859
Alzheimer's disease: 83,494
Diabetes: 69,071
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,476
Influenza and Pneumonia: 50,097
Intentional self-harm (suicide): 38,364

Hmm.....not auto accidents there. Now, which of these are preventable....I'd say a lot of the first category, a lot of the second category, most of the third category, a lot of the 4th category. Then there's the fifth category "accidents." Keep in mind this isn't just auto accidents. I suspect most of these are Granny slipping on the floor and hitting her head while taking coumadin, but there's probably some decent car accidents there.

Another sources says there were 25,000 auto accident deaths. So that puts it behind Alzeheimer's, Diabetes, Nephritis, Influenza and Pneumonia (and probably both of them if separated), and suicide. Surely you consider suicide a "preventable" cause of death, no?

My understanding is that motor vehicle accidents is a sub-category of accidents (unintentional injuries) in your list above and has historically represented about a third of the this category total.
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shokwaverider
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by shokwaverider »

I do not look at safety features when buying a car at all. In the US we go overboard on it. I do not select any add on safety package or additional airbags, all complete overkill. The basic safety features on any car today are adequate, in fact in 2003 that were adequate.
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tadamsmar
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by tadamsmar »

stlutz wrote:We still have a ways to go to catch up with other developed countries:

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_m ... cle-deaths
One disadvantage that we have vs other developed countries is that they built more roundabounts. Roundabouts are safer:
More than 90% reduction in fatalities*
76% reduction in injuries**
35% reduction in all crashes**
Slower speeds are generally safer for pedestrians
http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection ... wasa08006/

It's hard to for us to catch up on this, lots of infrastructure change would be required.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

Blue wrote:We have made special efforts to purchase cars with forward collision prevention/braking systems with the same formula in mind. Even a small reduction in vehicle velocity at time of collision significantly reduces k.e.

IIHS recently rated 7 manufacturers crash avoidance systems with a range of performance. Not all are created the same.
Not only are my son and his passengers safer because of his driving one of the cars on the list, but so are pedestrians :D I'm somewhat kidding; he's a pretty good driver even without some of the safety features, but every little bit might help. Next year, even cyclists will be safer.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
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Epsilon Delta
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by Epsilon Delta »

tadamsmar wrote:
If you become informed about electronic stability control (ESC), you will find that this is not completely true. ESC is a real game changer and it was introduced after 1995:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic ... ty_control
This is somewhat misleading. In the 1990s manufacturers sold lots of relatively unsafe SUVs. ESC had a much larger impact in an SUV than in a car, and the value of ESC is skewed by the 1990 SUV baseline. If SUVs had never been in fashion ESC would be a minor safety improvement rather than game changer.

So (as is common) "safety improvements" actually result in minor improvement in safety, but major advantages in being able to do what we want (drive an SUV rather than a car).
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by jlawrence01 »

TheGreyingDuke wrote:
jlawrence01 wrote: 2) Increased enforcement of DUI laws - In some states, a DUI conviction gets a 90 day license suspension. In many states, you cannot revoke a license until the 5th conviction..
I have been involved in the rehabilitation of DUI offenders for many years and am aware of the laws in many, not all, the states. My experience is that suspensions start much sooner, usually on the first offense, there are Federal funds that provide incentives for states. In Vermont, first offense gets you 90 day suspension, second is 18 months and a third offense gets you a LIFETIME suspension
Do you have a source for this assertion??
Here is the OWI Penalty Chart for the state of Wisconsin.

The maximum revocation for your TENTH DUI conviction is ONE YEAR unless you maim or kill someone.

Personally, I was unaware of the laxity of the laws until I heard a radio show hosted by a former federal prosecutor.
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Epsilon Delta
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by Epsilon Delta »

tadamsmar wrote:
One disadvantage that we have vs other developed countries is that they built more roundabounts.

It's hard to for us to catch up on this, lots of infrastructure change would be required.
Physical infrastructure is a minor problem, much of the road network is reconstructed every 20 years or so.

The real problem is there is no mechanism to retrain drivers, and it takes over 50 years to turn over the driver pool. If we build roundabouts now we will still have to worry about clueless drivers who don't signal turns and come to a complete stop at the entrance to the roundabout in 2063. These drivers significantly reduce the capacity of the roundabout and increase fender benders (although they rarely cause fatalities).
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by sls239 »

It obviously depends on where you live and how much you drive. When I lived in Austin along with 50,000 other college students, hell yeah I wanted all the safety features I could get. You could pretty much count on at least being rear-ended every other year or so.

I now live in a place where there aren't as many inexperienced drivers, lots of traffic circles, and where I don't have to drive as far to get where I'm going. So I'm a little ambivalent.

Every time I hear people talk about how you are less likely to die in a crash if you are in an SUV I can't help but think - yeah, but you are more likely to kill someone. No one really thinks about that though.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned back-up cameras. Have they been proven effective? Some of those SUVs have really long blind spots for a toddler. I can't imagine anything worse than accidentally killing your own child.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

sls239 wrote:I'm surprised no one has mentioned back-up cameras. Have they been proven effective? Some of those SUVs have really long blind spots for a toddler. I can't imagine anything worse than accidentally killing your own child.
No toddlers any more, but I do have an older beagle with failing eyesight and hearing who is alive because of a back-up camera.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by denovo »

What are the specific safety improvements since 2000 or 2008 models that made cars safer?

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Since other people have mentioned things to make our roads safer, I think everyone over the age of 65 should have to have their license renewed on an annual basis with a mandatory vision, mental, and cognitive exam. I have seem way too many elderly people on the road who do not belong there.
"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln
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Epsilon Delta
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by Epsilon Delta »

Since other people have mentioned things to make our roads safer, I think everyone should have to have their license renewed on an annual basis with a mandatory vision, mental, and cognitive exam. I have seem way too many people on the road who do not belong there.
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Ged
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by Ged »

denovo wrote:What are the specific safety improvements since 2000 or 2008 models that made cars safer?
-
Since other people have mentioned things to make our roads safer, I think everyone over the age of 65 should have to have their license renewed on an annual basis with a mandatory vision, mental, and cognitive exam. I have seem way too many elderly people on the road who do not belong there.
A lot of states have provisions of this type. There is no particular evidence that they have any effect on accident rates.

http://www.claimsjournal.com/news/natio ... 213818.htm

Death and accident rates among seniors are lower than 25 year-olds until age 80.

If there are going to be special laws for elderly people fairness suggests similar consideration of young people.

http://www.senatormoore.com/issues/inde ... search.pdf
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tadamsmar
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by tadamsmar »

denovo wrote:What are the specific safety improvements since 2000 or 2008 models that made cars safer?
ESC is probably the most important one. It was pretty rare in 2000 and it was on 69% of LTVs and 25% of cars in 2008:

http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811634.pdf

LTVs include SUVs.

ESC reduces fatalities by 1/3 and that is weighted toward LTVs, and it does this mostly by preventing crashes. So it could account for most of the 17% reduction in crash likelihood per 100,000 miles.

The rest is probably due to competition among automakers to improve their safety ratings. In particular, NHTSA introduced the rollover ratings between 2000 and 2008.

Hard to think of a single feature introduced in that period that is close to ESC. Side air bags are about 1/10th as effective in preventing fatalities.

Seat belts and dual front airbags were already mandated before 2000.
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by random_walker_77 »

MindBogler wrote:mv^2/2 strikes again...
Yes, and this is borne out by reviewing the fatality data, which does show that your typical small car is riskier than your typical large car (pg 3, by body style and size).

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/driver-death-rates

This is older data from 2006-2009, but arguably aligns w/ EmergDoc's figure of "1.14 persons killed per 100 million vehicle miles driven"

IIHS breaks out the number of driver deaths per million car*years by model. There's also discussion in the article about ESC, notably pointing out that it really helped SUV drivers, since SUV's had been prone to deadly rollover accidents.

annual driver deaths per million cars

mazda miata: 83
toyota corolla: 66
toyota camry: 46
honda odyssey: 17
toyota sienna: 0
nissan armada: 0

Whether these differences are meaningful to you is one thing. 100 out of a million is still a small fraction, even multiplied out over 40 years. But if you consider these differences meaningful, then I'd suggest considering vehicle size and fatality track record when selecting your next vehicle.
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ryuns
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by ryuns »

sls239 wrote: Every time I hear people talk about how you are less likely to die in a crash if you are in an SUV I can't help but think - yeah, but you are more likely to kill someone. No one really thinks about that though.
FWIW, I definitely think about that, and have pointed it out on past threads about vehicle safety. I definitely think it's worth considering. I will buy the car that is sized for what I want and not purposely buy a larger vehicle for the simple sake of being more likely to be on the right side of Newton's Laws.
An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered. -- GK Chesterton
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Mister Whale
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Re: How Much Does Vehicle Safety Matter?

Post by Mister Whale »

sls239 wrote:I'm surprised no one has mentioned back-up cameras. Have they been proven effective? Some of those SUVs have really long blind spots for a toddler. I can't imagine anything worse than accidentally killing your own child.
A recent opinion piece written by a pediatrician who sadly did just that. (It is not my intent to introduce politics into the discussion.)

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013 ... k-accident
" ... advice is most useful and at its best, not when it is telling you what to do, but when it is illuminating aspects of the situation you hadn't thought about." --nisiprius
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