How much is a safe car worth?

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angelescrest
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How much is a safe car worth?

Post by angelescrest » Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:38 pm

So...I've got two little ones now, and since then I've been questioning the safety of our two cars. 2005 Camry xle and another somewhat smaller hatchback. The cars are paid off (very proud of that) and we have at least another 5-8 years of life left. We like them, mostly, but I think every other day about their safety. I wouldn't say I'm obsessed or anxiety ridden, but it's in the back of my mind when I think of the kids or what could happen to their parents. We also live now where there are colder winters and lots of snow.

Right now we are on one income and tightly getting by, while wife is in school still. I could buy another used car with cash, maybe around $15,000, and probably sell the Camry (97k miles) for $8-9000. I have enough money in an emergency fund to last us a year, even if I buy the car.

Still, since we aren't really saving right now (though we do have 401k going and I had Roths maxed for previous 6-8 years for both of us when income was higher) and I don't look at the emergency fund (in investments) as money to spend, I have a hard time spending the money. But I keep asking--am I making a smart decision? How much is my family's safety worth? Are these newer safety features that much better?

We would definitely like more space in the family car--we talk about that a lot especially on road trips to see family and our dog is kinda crammed between the seats (two little kids plus dog). But the space is not an absolute necessity, as it's more about the dog than luggage. I also think about the loss of mpgs, which matters, and of course the trade off being that we could have potentially an awd and more clearance in our oft snow covered winter roads (snow tires I know matter more).

Being cheap, I need a reliable car that doesn't cost a lot, but the IIHS ratings this week that came out about the Lexus 350 awd, Volvo XC90 awd, the Audi A4 awd (not reliable and small), Subaru legacy awd, and Honda odyssey even, came out as having zero deaths in the 2008-11 years. That statistic has me about to go look at cars tomorrow. There are some in the $16-18 range, with anywhere from 60-100k miles.

Of course, I'd have to spend more for a used car with maybe similar miles, and perhaps less reliable than a Camry. I'm not 100% sure (manual doesn't say), but I don't think the Camry has ESC, which is a big safety feature. And now I'm wondering about my car, even, a smaller 5-door, that my kids ride in occasionally. I should mention I've never bought a new car and don't plan on it anytime soon.

I was going to post first about those cars but I thought I would discuss my thinking. My kids are everything, but I want to be a responsible provider. Any thoughts? I'd appreciate feedback about those aforementioned cars, too, and others that you might know are proven to be both safe and reliable (and hopefully affordable for us).
Last edited by angelescrest on Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sambb
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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by sambb » Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:42 pm

a safe car is worth your life and those of your family
I know that a lot of BH are in favor of driving an old car until the wheels fall off

For me, i disagree. modern safety features and accident avoidance features (blind spot monitor, rear view camera, etc) have saved me from several accidents - and that not only saves one's health but also one's potential liability and time consuming emotional and legal wrangling

I am a fan of modern safe cars and the safety features

people will disagree, saying - be more alert , be a safer driver, etc. Well that has a point also, but the safety features have saved me in spite of extra alertness

I could care less about saving millions if my children or me are unsafe, disabled, or harmed by a stupid auto accident

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by livesoft » Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:46 pm

I don't think the zero deaths things is true. They rounded the number down to zero.

One can buy used safe cars. My daughter drives my old 2001 which I bought used. It has airbags, ESC, seatbelts, traction control, ABS, etc. and no accidents that I am aware of in 13 years of my ownership. It is possible that your Camry has ESC. Did you check?
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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by angelescrest » Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:47 pm

sambb wrote:a safe car is worth your life and those of your family
I know that a lot of BH are in favor of driving an old car until the wheels fall off

For me, i disagree. modern safety features and accident avoidance features (blind spot monitor, rear view camera, etc) have saved me from several accidents - and that not only saves one's health but also one's potential liability and time consuming emotional and legal wrangling

I am a fan of modern safe cars and the safety features

people will disagree, saying - be more alert , be a safer driver, etc. Well that has a point also, but the safety features have saved me in spite of extra alertness

I could care less about saving millions if my children or me are unsafe, disabled, or harmed by a stupid auto accident
I agree completely, but how do you put an actual, dollar figure to it? If a car that costs $50,000 is proven to be the safest car in America, how far do you go to buy it (I couldn't)? Not that that's what I'm looking at, but my point is how do you shop and financially plan responsibly. In my case, $8-10k more, more gas money, and maybe more in repairs, for potential safety features.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by tludwig23 » Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:49 pm

This question is unanswerable on the individual level (but easily answerable on the population level). Just like my $1.2M term life insurance policy. It is worth absolutely nothing. Unless I die.
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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by virgingorda » Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:51 pm

Instead of wondering if your cars are safe, why not take them to a trustworthy mechanic and pay to have them thoroughly checked? My car is from 2007 and feels nearly new. It is a very reliable Audi A4 as a matter of fact. I don't worry about how safe it is. I have it checked and serviced regularly.
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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by Toons » Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:51 pm

"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by angelescrest » Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:52 pm

livesoft wrote:I don't think the zero deaths things is true. They rounded the number down to zero.
It is possible that your Camry has ESC. Did you check?
Funny, sounds simple, but I'm having a hard time finding info. I've done searches online, and also looked through the manual. I need to contact Toyota, because I haven't found anything yet. Since I haven't found that it does, I'm assuming not.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by tludwig23 » Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:53 pm

boroc7 wrote:I agree completely, but how do you put an actual, dollar figure to it? If a car that costs $50,000 is proven to be the safest car in America, how far do you go to buy it (I couldn't)? Not that that's what I'm looking at, but my point is how do you shop and financially plan responsibly. In my case, $8-10k more, more gas money, and maybe more in repairs, for potential safety features.
First of all, it is hard to prove which car is safest. Modern cars as a group as much safer than cars made 15 years ago. You don't need to shell out $50k for a top end Volvo to get 90% of this difference. Most of these features are in a VW Jetta at half that price. Also, a 2-3 year old car will have most of these features too, and will cost you even less.
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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by angelescrest » Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:56 pm

virgingorda wrote:Instead of wondering if your cars are safe, why not take them to a trustworthy mechanic and pay to have them thoroughly checked? My car is from 2007 and feels nearly new. I don't worry about how safe it is. I have it checked and serviced regularly.
I'm not sure how that applies. I have it serviced and the mechanic say it's in solid shape, but that doesn't mean the design of the car or the lack of the latest safety features means it's as safe as newer cars? If I have a perfectly restored Chevy Nova that the mechanic says drives and smells great, does that mean it's as safe as a 2011 Volvo?

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by hyla » Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:58 pm

You mention ice and snow on the roads - do your current cars have good snow tires? They make a world of difference - more important than AWD in my experience, I feel safer and more stable driving my own car (prius with bridgestone blizzak snow tires) on winter roads than my 4WD work truck. If you are concerned about safety but aren't sure if you could manage purchasing a new car financially, upgrading tires may be an affordable safety improvement.

Personally, I follow the focus on driving skills and situational awareness not the car, drive your old car into the ground until it breaks school of thought on this, but that's of course a personal decision and I can't know what makes the most sense for you.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by noco-hawkeye » Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:59 pm

We have two late model cars: Subaru Outback and Honda Odyssey. We drove our last cars for > 10 years, but now are lucky to have some newer wheels.

One thing that strikes me is that, dollar for dollar, there is no better car than a minivan. I hate the stigma associated with it, but that thing can haul kids and dogs with room to spare. Full 4X8 sheet of plywood - technically that even fits. And the price difference between the minivan and the outback was not all that much for similar trim levels.

I look forward to the time when we don't have the minivan (because of the stigma and the parking), but those things are totally useful as a car type.

I realize I am not really answering your question with the minivan comments yet. When you look at the recent safety features on a odyssey, I think the main things added in the last few years are around automatic cruise control that tracks the car ahead of you. That might be helpful, but I would say if you stick with a car in the last 5 years with more airbags, anti-roll features, backup camera, and decent tires and brakes - that would cover you pretty well.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by angelescrest » Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:59 pm

tludwig23 wrote:
boroc7 wrote:I agree completely, but how do you put an actual, dollar figure to it? If a car that costs $50,000 is proven to be the safest car in America, how far do you go to buy it (I couldn't)? Not that that's what I'm looking at, but my point is how do you shop and financially plan responsibly. In my case, $8-10k more, more gas money, and maybe more in repairs, for potential safety features.
First of all, it is hard to prove which car is safest. Modern cars as a group as much safer than cars made 15 years ago. You don't need to shell out $50k for a top end Volvo to get 90% of this difference. Most of these features are in a VW Jetta at half that price. Also, a 2-3 year old car will have most of these features too, and will cost you even less.
I like your rational responses. Here we are talking 2005 models vs 2011 models. Would you do it?

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by tludwig23 » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:03 pm

virgingorda wrote:Instead of wondering if your cars are safe, why not take them to a trustworthy mechanic and pay to have them thoroughly checked? My car is from 2007 and feels nearly new. It is a very reliable Audi A4 as a matter of fact. I don't worry about how safe it is. I have it checked and serviced regularly.
Even if everything on your Audi is tuned to factory specs, An Audi without Electronic Stability Program (ESP) is not going to me nearly as safe as one with it. (I believe all Audis have had ESP since 2004, but I could be wrong on that point...)
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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by randomguy » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:04 pm

boroc7 wrote:
livesoft wrote:I don't think the zero deaths things is true. They rounded the number down to zero.
It is possible that your Camry has ESC. Did you check?
Funny, sounds simple, but I'm having a hard time finding info. I've done searches online, and also looked through the manual. I need to contact Toyota, because I haven't found anything yet. Since I haven't found that it does, I'm assuming not.
http://www.edmunds.com/toyota/camry/200 ... eviews-tab

It was option in 2007. Odds are you don't have it. The manual should mention it and their probably would be a button to turn it off.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by tludwig23 » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:05 pm

boroc7 wrote:
tludwig23 wrote:
boroc7 wrote:I agree completely, but how do you put an actual, dollar figure to it? If a car that costs $50,000 is proven to be the safest car in America, how far do you go to buy it (I couldn't)? Not that that's what I'm looking at, but my point is how do you shop and financially plan responsibly. In my case, $8-10k more, more gas money, and maybe more in repairs, for potential safety features.
First of all, it is hard to prove which car is safest. Modern cars as a group as much safer than cars made 15 years ago. You don't need to shell out $50k for a top end Volvo to get 90% of this difference. Most of these features are in a VW Jetta at half that price. Also, a 2-3 year old car will have most of these features too, and will cost you even less.
I like your rational responses. Here we are talking 2005 models vs 2011 models. Would you do it?
There are a lot of people on this board with more car knowledge than me, but basically I think 4 wheel ABS and ESC (ESP, VSC, DVSC, etc.) are the two must haves.
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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by bottlecap » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:06 pm

The problem is that there is no end to increasing safety features. A lot of it comes down to a personal decision. For example, if you could buy a car for $25,000 that a family member had a .0025% chance of dying in an accident each year and could spend $50,000 for one in which that chance was .0015%, many Bogleheads would do that. I probably wouldn't.

That said, I think a Honda Odyssey would be a great vehicle that you actually need (for space and cargo reasons), would have all of the latest safety features and last you until your kids were almost ready for college (unless you were overcome by the next great safety feature to come along!). Seriously, I don't think you can go wrong there.

Good luck,

JT

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by angelescrest » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:08 pm

noco-hawkeye wrote:We have two late model cars: Subaru Outback and Honda Odyssey. We drove our last cars for > 10 years, but now are lucky to have some newer wheels.

One thing that strikes me is that, dollar for dollar, there is no better car than a minivan. I hate the stigma associated with it, but that thing can haul kids and dogs with room to spare. Full 4X8 sheet of plywood - technically that even fits. And the price difference between the minivan and the outback was not all that much for similar trim levels.

I look forward to the time when we don't have the minivan (because of the stigma and the parking), but those things are totally useful as a car type.

I realize I am not really answering your question with the minivan comments yet. When you look at the recent safety features on a odyssey, I think the main things added in the last few years are around automatic cruise control that tracks the car ahead of you. That might be helpful, but I would say if you stick with a car in the last 5 years with more airbags, anti-roll features, backup camera, and decent tires and brakes - that would cover you pretty well.
No, this is helpful. I was surprised, particularly since they have way more numbers on the road than the other models listed as zero death, that the Odyssey is on there. I'm not opposed to the minivan, as this is for my wife, and my parent's two year old Odyssey is quite amazing. For whatever reason I think about all the huge trucks and SUVs where we live, and how in a collision with their height the minivans and sedans would go right under. We would enjoy the space, particularly for buying things off craigslist. But yeah, just thought a higher clearance awd vehicle makes more sense for winter.

Someone mentioned driving and awareness, and I drive very confidently in bad weather (in fact I love driving in snow more than almost anything else), but my wife is very anxious in bad weather and I also don't trust drivers here as they are always looking at their mobile devices. (I should say this doesn't make me any safer than her) We have lots of two lane roads with regular auto fatalities in a fairly small town area.
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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by livesoft » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:09 pm

Re: Camry and ESC: When you turn on the ignition all the lights in the dash light up and one would be ESC or VSC in earlier Toyotas.
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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by ourbrooks » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:15 pm

What you could do to increase your safety by a bigger amount than any car decision is to let your wife drive, or, better still, let her mother or your mother drive. Men 21-25 have three times the fatality rate as women the same age and women 21-25 have twice the fatality rate of women 61-65! Here's more numbers: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810853.pdf
If it means that you do the cooking and house cleaning so she can pick up the kids, then that's something you should do.

In fact, age/gender differences are another way to explain the IIHS car safety differences. The safest cars are probably the cars preferred by older women. I have a hard time imagining a 25 year old guy buying a Honda Odyssey or a Highlander Hybrid.

If you read the IIHS report carefully, almost all of the safety improvements occurred between 1993 and 2006, so any car newer than that will have most of the important safety features but you could double check for the particular cars you buy. I second the other posters who suggest making sure that your cars are in good mechanical shape. If the tires are worn, the ESC system won't work very well.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by angelescrest » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:17 pm

bottlecap wrote:The problem is that there is no end to increasing safety features. A lot of it comes down to a personal decision. For example, if you could buy a car for $25,000 that a family member had a .0025% chance of dying in an accident each year and could spend $50,000 for one in which that chance was .0015%, many Bogleheads would do that. I probably wouldn't.
Good luck,

JT
Thanks JT. I wouldn't upgrade on those odds, but it's in part all the bogleheads posts about safety features I've been regularly reading that have gotten me thinking about this. I know not all features are equal, and don't buy into all of them by any means. But the frontal off set collision is something I think worth paying attention to, as is ESC, along with rear camera (one friend just lost their child this year by running them over), and blind spot monitoring (my wife just admitted she doesn't always look over her shoulder and likes the idea of the feature). Of course a brand new car would solve this, but that's not money we have, so this is where I'm thinking of compromise. I've definitely been a drive a stick shift only car into the ground with pride kind of guy, but I'm also a fairly new parent so my priorities have changed.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by dewey » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:17 pm

sambb wrote:a safe car is worth your life and those of your family
I know that a lot of BH are in favor of driving an old car until the wheels fall off

For me, i disagree. modern safety features and accident avoidance features (blind spot monitor, rear view camera, etc) have saved me from several accidents - and that not only saves one's health but also one's potential liability and time consuming emotional and legal wrangling

I am a fan of modern safe cars and the safety features

people will disagree, saying - be more alert , be a safer driver, etc. Well that has a point also, but the safety features have saved me in spite of extra alertness

I could care less about saving millions if my children or me are unsafe, disabled, or harmed by a stupid auto accident
+1
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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by angelescrest » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:20 pm

ourbrooks wrote:What you could do to increase your safety by a bigger amount than any car decision is to let your wife drive, or, better still, let her mother or your mother drive. Men 21-25 have three times the fatality rate as women the same age and women 21-25 have twice the fatality rate of women 61-65! Here's more numbers: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810853.pdf
If it means that you do the cooking and house cleaning so she can pick up the kids, then that's something you should do.

In fact, age/gender differences are another way to explain the IIHS car safety differences. The safest cars are probably the cars preferred by older women. I have a hard time imagining a 25 year old guy buying a Honda Odyssey or a Highlander Hybrid.

If you read the IIHS report carefully, almost all of the safety improvements occurred between 1993 and 2006, so any car newer than that will have most of the important safety features but you could double check for the particular cars you buy. I second the other posters who suggest making sure that your cars are in good mechanical shape. If the tires are worn, the ESC system won't work very well.
At this point she drives the aforementioned vehicle (hers) roughly 95% of the time, and the children are in her car 90% of the time. But even a 61-65 year old woman wants to drive a safe car, and still is on the road with all those 21-25 millennials behind the wheel.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by angelescrest » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:27 pm

livesoft wrote:Re: Camry and ESC: When you turn on the ignition all the lights in the dash light up and one would be ESC or VSC in earlier Toyotas.
Thanks. Then it's not a current feature we have.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by black jack » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:31 pm

The direct response to your question would be difficult to calculate: it would depend on where you live, where you drive to, how much you drive at various times of day and on which days of the week, and several other factors. Even then, the result would just be a statistical rate that would be subject to your own judgment of financial trade-offs versus the very low odds of being involved in a serious crash (as bottlecap noted above) after all, a 2005 Camry is already a pretty safe car. And even drivers involved in the most egregious forms of risky driving - driving while drunk, or while drowsy, or texting while driving - don't crash every time they do that, or even 1 out of every hundred times they do that.

Lacking information about your personal driving characteristics, a few general comments:

First, the fact that you are posting on this board, and asking this question, suggests that you are likely a safer than average driver. The vast majority of crashes are due in large part to driver (mis)behavior - driving too fast for conditions, driving emotionally, not paying sufficient attention to driving, driving drunk, running red lights, etc. Generally, people do less of this as they get older, and some people do less of it than others at all ages - and people who are naturally cautious and prudent in their approach to the world are involved in crashes at a lower rate than others.

There's always the chance that you'll be hit by someone else doing those things even though you're driving defensively, but the odds of that are very low (stay off the road after 11 pm on Friday nights, when a higher percentage of drivers are drunk compared to other periods).

Make sure everyone in your car is properly restrained (seat belts, child car seats). Driving with a sense of vulnerability, or concern for your children's safety, will lead you drive more safely and further reduce your odds of being in a crash (there's an old joke in the auto safety community that the best safety device for a car would be a short spike in the center of every steering wheel, so that everyone drove conscious of the prospect of being impaled if they were in a crash).

I have a 2005 Subaru wagon, and I think about the new safety features too. I have a daughter who will reach driving age in a couple of years, and I'm thinking of buying a new car at that time, primarily for her safety as a novice driver.

Many of the new safety features are oriented at preventing crashes, but not necessarily the most devastating kinds of crashes. For example, one of the niftiest new safety features is override braking - that is, the car will automatically brake if it senses an obstacle ahead and you don't apply the brakes. But that is most useful at avoiding running into things, and running into things head-on is a relatively low-risk crash - you have several feet of crumple zone between you and whatever you're hitting, and your kids in the back seat are even further away from the point of impact. By contrast, when someone strikes you in the side, or you skid sideways into something, you have only a couple of inches of metal for protection. Not much help for that yet - except for side-impact air bags (which your Camry may have) and ESC (which would help for your skids, but not for someone else striking you).
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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by Ged » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:32 pm

2005 Camry XLE had a VSC + side airbag option. If you have this I wouldn't bother selling to get another car that might be safer.

You can probably find out by calling your dealer or insurance company - the VIN will tell them.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by bottlecap » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:39 pm

boroc7 wrote:But the frontal off set collision is something I think worth paying attention to, as is ESC, along with rear camera (one friend just lost their child this year by running them over), and blind spot monitoring (my wife just admitted she doesn't always look over her shoulder and likes the idea of the feature). Of course a brand new car would solve this, but that's not money we have, so this is where I'm thinking of compromise.
I'd look at used cars with ESC, then - perhaps a 2010 - 2012 Odyssey? Blind spot monitoring isn't necessary because there's an easy solution(!), but it's not to be trusted anyway (my stepfather's vehicle has it and he's not a big fan, as it's not reliable). You can install an aftermarket rear view camera without much trouble and expense, but you'll still have to keep an eye on your kids, because the cameras don't eliminate the risk, but merely reduce it in some cases. So you're really down to ESC and crash protection. I'd be more interested in crash protection, although if either spouse was not very safe driver, I'd make sure we got ESC, too.

Good luck and let us know if you decide on anything. I may be in the same boat soon.

JT

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by sambb » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:42 pm

bottlecap wrote:
boroc7 wrote:But the frontal off set collision is something I think worth paying attention to, as is ESC, along with rear camera (one friend just lost their child this year by running them over), and blind spot monitoring (my wife just admitted she doesn't always look over her shoulder and likes the idea of the feature). Of course a brand new car would solve this, but that's not money we have, so this is where I'm thinking of compromise.
I'd look at used cars with ESC, then - perhaps a 2010 - 2012 Odyssey? Blind spot monitoring isn't necessary because there's an easy solution(!), but it's not to be trusted anyway (my stepfather's vehicle has it and he's not a big fan, as it's not reliable). You can install an aftermarket rear view camera without much trouble and expense, but you'll still have to keep an eye on your kids, because the cameras don't eliminate the risk, but merely reduce it in some cases. So you're really down to ESC and crash protection. I'd be more interested in crash protection, although if either spouse was not very safe driver, I'd make sure we got ESC, too.

Good luck and let us know if you decide on anything. I may be in the same boat soon.

JT

Three cars I have had with Blind spot monitor have been perfect - no issues and no mistakes - ever. I still check my blind spot, but it has always been consistent with the monitor. Never once, in 3 different cars across 3 different manufacturers has it been wrong.

I would definitely get a new car if you can afford it.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by angelescrest » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:56 pm

black jack wrote: Many of the new safety features are oriented at preventing crashes, but not necessarily the most devastating kinds of crashes. For example, one of the niftiest new safety features is override braking - that is, the car will automatically brake if it senses an obstacle ahead and you don't apply the brakes. But that is most useful at avoiding running into things, and running into things head-on is a relatively low-risk crash - you have several feet of crumple zone between you and whatever you're hitting, and your kids in the back seat are even further away from the point of impact. By contrast, when someone strikes you in the side, or you skid sideways into something, you have only a couple of inches of metal for protection. Not much help for that yet - except for side-impact air bags (which your Camry may have) and ESC (which would help for your skids, but not for someone else striking you).
Thanks for your response black jack. I used to live in one of the biggest cities in the world, where statistically I'm guessing there are a lot more accidents. Now, we live in a fairly rural area. However, everyone has a massive truck or Suv and being in a small town with hard winters, I hear about a lot of auto deaths. I also am intimidated by the idea of crashing into a car 2x heavier and larger with lots of two lane roads. I know that fear of something happening to your kids is not rational, so I'm trying to think of this in more boglehead-like terms. I want to think that I made the safest balance between protecting my children (and their parents) physically against protecting what money they'll have for their college fund in the future.

We are low risk people, and the driving here is so flat and boring I suddenly have little interest in cars and can understand why more people here drive a big boat. With no curves and loads of potholes, I almost want a Lincoln towncar.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by oragne lovre » Sat Jan 31, 2015 11:42 pm

ourbrooks wrote:What you could do to increase your safety by a bigger amount than any car decision is to let your wife drive, or, better still, let her mother or your mother drive. Men 21-25 have three times the fatality rate as women the same age and women 21-25 have twice the fatality rate of women 61-65! Here's more numbers: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810853.pdf
If it means that you do the cooking and house cleaning so she can pick up the kids, then that's something you should do.

In fact, age/gender differences are another way to explain the IIHS car safety differences. The safest cars are probably the cars preferred by older women. I have a hard time imagining a 25 year old guy buying a Honda Odyssey or a Highlander Hybrid.

If you read the IIHS report carefully, almost all of the safety improvements occurred between 1993 and 2006, so any car newer than that will have most of the important safety features but you could double check for the particular cars you buy. I second the other posters who suggest making sure that your cars are in good mechanical shape. If the tires are worn, the ESC system won't work very well.
Following is the link to NHTSA safety rating, which should minimize confounding factor of age:

http://www.safercar.gov/Safety+Ratings

NHTSA and IIHS are the 2 unbiased rating agencies since they are sponsored by the government and auto insurers respectively.
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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by Epsilon Delta » Sun Feb 01, 2015 12:05 am

boroc7 wrote:Thanks for your response black jack. I used to live in one of the biggest cities in the world, where statistically I'm guessing there are a lot more accidents. Now, we live in a fairly rural area. However, everyone has a massive truck or Suv and being in a small town with hard winters, I hear about a lot of auto deaths.
Your guess is wrong. Move back to the city. Urban roads are much safer than rural roads. The number of urban crashes is higher, but because there are more people (and more traffic) in urban areas the crash rates (per person, or per vehicle mile) are much lower.

Urban roads generally have lower speed limits, safer designs, better maintenance, and, when there is an crash, better emergency response. Urban dwellers also drive fewer miles. On the otherhand IIRC single vehicle crashes are the most common rural crashes, so your neighbors aren't quite as big a threat as they appear at first.

http://motorist.org/news/rural-highways ... -dangerous
http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita. ... ntire.html

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by Ron Ronnerson » Sun Feb 01, 2015 12:50 am


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Murray Boyd
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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by Murray Boyd » Sun Feb 01, 2015 12:54 am

Yes, cities are much safer than rural areas:

http://media.philly.com/documents/Myers ... +safer.pdf

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by NaOH » Sun Feb 01, 2015 2:00 am

How much is an awesome car worth?
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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by robert88 » Sun Feb 01, 2015 2:14 am

ourbrooks wrote: In fact, age/gender differences are another way to explain the IIHS car safety differences. The safest cars are probably the cars preferred by older women. I have a hard time imagining a 25 year old guy buying a Honda Odyssey or a Highlander Hybrid.
Didn't we go over this in the other thread, that the IIHS data already corrects for the age and gender difference of the driver?

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by angelescrest » Sun Feb 01, 2015 2:17 am

Epsilon Delta wrote:
boroc7 wrote:Thanks for your response black jack. I used to live in one of the biggest cities in the world, where statistically I'm guessing there are a lot more accidents. Now, we live in a fairly rural area. However, everyone has a massive truck or Suv and being in a small town with hard winters, I hear about a lot of auto deaths.
Your guess is wrong. Move back to the city. Urban roads are much safer than rural roads. The number of urban crashes is higher, but because there are more people (and more traffic) in urban areas the crash rates (per person, or per vehicle mile) are much lower.

Urban roads generally have lower speed limits, safer designs, better maintenance, and, when there is an crash, better emergency response. Urban dwellers also drive fewer miles. On the otherhand IIRC single vehicle crashes are the most common rural crashes, so your neighbors aren't quite as big a threat as they appear at first.

http://motorist.org/news/rural-highways ... -dangerous
http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita. ... ntire.html
That is good data. My instincts were right then, and to the contrary of the survey I feel much safer driving in the city than on these two lane roads as there seems to be much more distracted driving. I will say though, there's way less road rage here.

So getting back to the issue--what vehicle would you recommend for 15-17k, under 100k miles?

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by angelescrest » Sun Feb 01, 2015 2:18 am

robert88 wrote:
ourbrooks wrote: In fact, age/gender differences are another way to explain the IIHS car safety differences. The safest cars are probably the cars preferred by older women. I have a hard time imagining a 25 year old guy buying a Honda Odyssey or a Highlander Hybrid.
Didn't we go over this in the other thread, that the IIHS data already corrects for the age and gender difference of the driver?
Is that so?! That's big news to me. Thanks for sharing.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by robert88 » Sun Feb 01, 2015 2:28 am

Problems I see are that no one drives or buys an average composite of all new cars. Instead, you buy a vehicle with a particular make and model, that may have a lot or very little in the way of new safety features compared to an older car. The data on the safety of a particular make and model can be very sensitive to noise in the data, unless you do a lot of corrections. If they only have 100,000 Subaru Legacy owner years, then 1 drunk Subaru driver could change the numbers from 0 per million to 10 per million registered vehicle years. 2 drunk drivers would make it 20 per million. Ideally, you would want studies that identify the most important safety features that look across all makes and models, and then identify cars with those. Everything else being equal, a larger and heavier vehicle should make your family safer at the expense of anyone else you might hit, especially pedestrians.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by Blue » Sun Feb 01, 2015 7:51 am

You can check fatality rates for older models here, http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/driver-death-rates

2005 Camry either 46 or 55 driver fatalities per million (If you look at 2008 vs 2004 report). This gives you a basis for your existing risk compared to any potential purchase.

I personally worry less about confounding factors like gender, age driver, etc since IIHS corrects for these. One important note though, the data is limited to driver fatality. Thus an accidental driveway death that could have been prevented with a back up camera is not reflected in this data.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by Blue » Sun Feb 01, 2015 7:57 am

robert88 wrote:Problems I see are that no one drives or buys an average composite of all new cars. Instead, you buy a vehicle with a particular make and model, that may have a lot or very little in the way of new safety features compared to an older car. The data on the safety of a particular make and model can be very sensitive to noise in the data, unless you do a lot of corrections. If they only have 100,000 Subaru Legacy owner years, then 1 drunk Subaru driver could change the numbers from 0 per million to 10 per million registered vehicle years. 2 drunk drivers would make it 20 per million. Ideally, you would want studies that identify the most important safety features that look across all makes and models, and then identify cars with those. Everything else being equal, a larger and heavier vehicle should make your family safer at the expense of anyone else you might hit, especially pedestrians.
You should read the IIHS reports directly. There is considerable attention to statistical nuances and confounding factors. They even correct for the recessionary impact in the most recent data. This is not to say the report is perfect, but glib criticisms like these and some of the others up thread just don't hold true.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by sambb » Sun Feb 01, 2015 8:22 am

Blue wrote:
robert88 wrote:Problems I see are that no one drives or buys an average composite of all new cars. Instead, you buy a vehicle with a particular make and model, that may have a lot or very little in the way of new safety features compared to an older car. The data on the safety of a particular make and model can be very sensitive to noise in the data, unless you do a lot of corrections. If they only have 100,000 Subaru Legacy owner years, then 1 drunk Subaru driver could change the numbers from 0 per million to 10 per million registered vehicle years. 2 drunk drivers would make it 20 per million. Ideally, you would want studies that identify the most important safety features that look across all makes and models, and then identify cars with those. Everything else being equal, a larger and heavier vehicle should make your family safer at the expense of anyone else you might hit, especially pedestrians.
You should read the IIHS reports directly. There is considerable attention to statistical nuances and confounding factors. They even correct for the recessionary impact in the most recent data. This is not to say the report is perfect, but glib criticisms like these and some of the others up thread just don't hold true.

+1

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by virgingorda » Sun Feb 01, 2015 9:12 am

You are doomed to worry about your kids' safety. It's just the way it will always be. I am 51 and my patents were sure I was going to get stuck on the road and freeze to death in last week's blizzard. My own kids drive now. I lose sleep over it!

Have you thought about taking one of those track-based driving courses where they teach you how to break at high speed, etc.? I have always wanted to do that. Maybe it would be a fun date for you and your wife! It might help take the exact car model out of the equation if the drivers have learned to handle unexpected situations.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by angelescrest » Sun Feb 01, 2015 10:29 am

virgingorda wrote:You are doomed to worry about your kids' safety. It's just the way it will always be. I am 51 and my patents were sure I was going to get stuck on the road and freeze to death in last week's blizzard. My own kids drive now. I lose sleep over it!

Have you thought about taking one of those track-based driving courses where they teach you how to break at high speed, etc.? I have always wanted to do that. Maybe it would be a fun date for you and your wife! It might help take the exact car model out of the equation if the drivers have learned to handle unexpected situations.
Ain't that the truth. I never knew fear until I had kids. And yes my mom still puts her arm in front of me when she brakes in the car (tells you something about the cars we used to drive way back in the day). But I do want to be smart about it, so if there are small but significant ways to protect them, I'm all for it.

That said, I must have missed the part on the IIHS data that it was on driver deaths only. I wonder why that's the case? I would love to do some advanced driving classes with the family. I've thought about that with the kids when they get older too, although I don't know which classes are good.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by robert88 » Sun Feb 01, 2015 10:55 am

Blue wrote:
robert88 wrote:Problems I see are that no one drives or buys an average composite of all new cars. Instead, you buy a vehicle with a particular make and model, that may have a lot or very little in the way of new safety features compared to an older car. The data on the safety of a particular make and model can be very sensitive to noise in the data, unless you do a lot of corrections. If they only have 100,000 Subaru Legacy owner years, then 1 drunk Subaru driver could change the numbers from 0 per million to 10 per million registered vehicle years. 2 drunk drivers would make it 20 per million. Ideally, you would want studies that identify the most important safety features that look across all makes and models, and then identify cars with those. Everything else being equal, a larger and heavier vehicle should make your family safer at the expense of anyone else you might hit, especially pedestrians.
You should read the IIHS reports directly. There is considerable attention to statistical nuances and confounding factors. They even correct for the recessionary impact in the most recent data. This is not to say the report is perfect, but glib criticisms like these and some of the others up thread just don't hold true.
You would have to link to the specific report that you're talking about. Alcohol is not mentioned at all in this IIHS study, http://www.iihs.org/frontend/iihs/docum ... hx?id=2073, in this IIHS status report, http://www.iihs.org/externaldata/srdata/docs/sr5001.pdf, or on this IIHS page, http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/driver-death-rates, where they give data for specific makes and models. I would like to see studies that exclude deaths where the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by Blue » Sun Feb 01, 2015 11:03 am

boroc7 wrote: That said, I must have missed the part on the IIHS data that it was on driver deaths only. I wonder why that's the case?
This corrects for different numbers of average passengers among vehicles. So a van of five passengers doesn't get counted more heavily than a two seater sports car if there are accident fatalities.

When looking at vehicle purchases personally we start with driver fatalities and then look to see if there are any red flags for passengers in the nhtsa and iihs crash testing data.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by Blue » Sun Feb 01, 2015 11:10 am

robert88 wrote:
Blue wrote:
robert88 wrote:Problems I see are that no one drives or buys an average composite of all new cars. Instead, you buy a vehicle with a particular make and model, that may have a lot or very little in the way of new safety features compared to an older car. The data on the safety of a particular make and model can be very sensitive to noise in the data, unless you do a lot of corrections. If they only have 100,000 Subaru Legacy owner years, then 1 drunk Subaru driver could change the numbers from 0 per million to 10 per million registered vehicle years. 2 drunk drivers would make it 20 per million. Ideally, you would want studies that identify the most important safety features that look across all makes and models, and then identify cars with those. Everything else being equal, a larger and heavier vehicle should make your family safer at the expense of anyone else you might hit, especially pedestrians.
You should read the IIHS reports directly. There is considerable attention to statistical nuances and confounding factors. They even correct for the recessionary impact in the most recent data. This is not to say the report is perfect, but glib criticisms like these and some of the others up thread just don't hold true.
You would have to link to the specific report that you're talking about. Alcohol is not mentioned at all in this IIHS study, http://www.iihs.org/frontend/iihs/docum ... hx?id=2073, in this IIHS status report, http://www.iihs.org/externaldata/srdata/docs/sr5001.pdf, or on this IIHS page, http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/driver-death-rates, where they give data for specific makes and models. I would like to see studies that exclude deaths where the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Since 1989 every three to fours years IIHS distributes this data. Each report since 1989 spends considerable verbiage talking about statistical adjustments for confounding factors to their "model".

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by mmmodem » Sun Feb 01, 2015 11:16 am

Let's look at the statistics hypothetically. Statistically, say a newer vehicle is 4 times safer than a Camry. What is the value of increasing you and your family's survival rate from 99.999% to 99.9999%? (Use whatever number IIHS says.) I would say the odds of you outlasting your retirement or an emergency exceeding your savings is greater than a fatal traffic collision that could be avoided by ESC.

Also consider in a few years when ESC and blind spot monitoring is old news, safety continues to march forward. Do you upgrade again to obtain radar collision avoidance systems and lane departure guidance to get to 99.99999%?

You're chasing safety instead of the Jones. But they are the same thing, financially. Spending money you don't have. I know safety makes you feel better but look at and understand the statistics. What happens when you lose your job and can't make the newer car payments? You had a perfectly working Camry that is paid off. Without steady income, you have to sell the newer cars and go right back where you started.

Another way to put it, there are many aspects to being a responsible provider to your children. You're placing a huge emphasis on transportation. The costs could go a long way towards their education. Does it make sense to drive them to school in a safer vehicle but when they go to college they have to work part time or take our huge student loans to suppliment their tuition? I'm not saying it's either safety or huge student loans. I'm saying look at the odds. The link to the mrmoneymustache blog is a good place to start fromone of the peoplergat replied to this post.
Last edited by mmmodem on Sun Feb 01, 2015 11:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by Blue » Sun Feb 01, 2015 11:18 am

Blue wrote:
robert88 wrote:
Blue wrote:
robert88 wrote:Problems I see are that no one drives or buys an average composite of all new cars. Instead, you buy a vehicle with a particular make and model, that may have a lot or very little in the way of new safety features compared to an older car. The data on the safety of a particular make and model can be very sensitive to noise in the data, unless you do a lot of corrections. If they only have 100,000 Subaru Legacy owner years, then 1 drunk Subaru driver could change the numbers from 0 per million to 10 per million registered vehicle years. 2 drunk drivers would make it 20 per million. Ideally, you would want studies that identify the most important safety features that look across all makes and models, and then identify cars with those. Everything else being equal, a larger and heavier vehicle should make your family safer at the expense of anyone else you might hit, especially pedestrians.
You should read the IIHS reports directly. There is considerable attention to statistical nuances and confounding factors. They even correct for the recessionary impact in the most recent data. This is not to say the report is perfect, but glib criticisms like these and some of the others up thread just don't hold true.
You would have to link to the specific report that you're talking about. Alcohol is not mentioned at all in this IIHS study, http://www.iihs.org/frontend/iihs/docum ... hx?id=2073, in this IIHS status report, http://www.iihs.org/externaldata/srdata/docs/sr5001.pdf, or on this IIHS page, http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/driver-death-rates, where they give data for specific makes and models. I would like to see studies that exclude deaths where the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Since 1989 every three to fours years IIHS distributes this data. Each report since 1989 spends considerable verbiage talking about statistical adjustments for confounding factors to their "model".
To clarify, I don't honestly know to what extent they have looked at alcohol related fatalities. My point is simply that I do not believe "1 drunk Subaru driver" skews the results in a meaningful way.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by robert88 » Sun Feb 01, 2015 11:21 am

Blue wrote: Since 1989 every three to fours years IIHS distributes this data. Each report since 1989 spends considerable verbiage talking about statistical adjustments for confounding factors to their "model".
Did you even read my post? The status reports that have been coming out since 1989 do not exclude DUIs.

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Re: How much is a safe car worth?

Post by Blue » Sun Feb 01, 2015 11:36 am

mmmodem wrote:Let's look at the statistics hypothetically. Statistically, say a newer vehicle is 4 times safer than a Camry. What is the value of increasing you and your family's survival rate from 99.999% to 99.9999%? (Use whatever number IIHS says.) I would say the odds of you outlasting your retirement or an emergency exceeding your savings is greater than a fatal traffic collision that could be avoided by ESC.

Also consider in a few years when ESC and blind spot monitoring is old news, safety continues to march forward. Do you upgrade again to obtain radar collision avoidance systems and lane departure guidance to get to 99.99999%?

You're chasing safety instead of the Jones. But they are the same thing, financially. Spending money you don't have. I know safety makes you feel better but look at and understand the statistics. What happens when you lose your job and can't make the newer car payments? You had a perfectly working Camry that is paid off. Without steady income, you have to sell the newer cars and go right back where you started.

Another way to put it, there are many aspects to being a responsible provider to your children. You're placing a huge emphasis on transportation. The costs could go a long way towards their education. Does it make sense to drive them to school in a safer vehicle but when they go to college they have to work part time or take our huge student loans to suppliment their tuition? I'm not saying it's either safety or huge student loans. I'm saying look at the odds. The link to the mrmoneymustache blog is a good place to start fromone of the peoplergat replied to this post.
http://www.iihs.org/media/e368e3e5-ff90 ... rcedes.pdf

I like reports like this because it quantifies real world insurance data on the impact of each individual safety feature.

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