Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

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margaritaville
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Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by margaritaville »

I work for a large government agency and was chatting with a co-worker recently about the fact that we have about 50 people who are perpetually on the leave donation list. For those that don’t work for the gov., this is a list of people approved to accept donations of unused annual leave from people in the organization that are unable to use it prior to expiration. I’ve seen it used for child birth needs, serious illness, family care, etc. I mentioned that there was one name that had been on the list for at least 6 or 7 years. My co-worker said that this particular person’s husband had been involved in a vehicle accident in a small car (Yaris) on the way to work that left him a paraplegic due to damage to his spine from the wreck. He needs help with self-care, getting to medical appointments, etc. hence the need for this person’s wife to be away from work more than the average person. That got me thinking about the safety of my own vehicle.

In the interests of frugality, I bought a 2012 Toyota Prius C around a year and a half ago for my 22 mile round trip commute. At the time, I was shopping for a standard Prius, but found a good deal on the “C” model. I had checked safety on the standard model, but failed to look at the smaller car when I bought. Since the Prius C is based on the Yaris platform I decided to belatedly check out the safety ratings which aren’t terrible, but not stellar either.

https://www.iihs.org/ratings/vehicle/to ... hback/2012

https://www.nhtsa.gov/vehicle/2012/TOYO ... gs-frontal

So, now when I drive to work all I think about is what would happen if a car ran through an intersection and hit me broadside or crossed the center-line and smacked me. Am I being irrational and just looking for an excuse to get a new car? Or, would you be concerned? I’m about 4 years away from retirement and don’t want to spend my remaining years disabled.

If it matters, I can afford a newer/safer car. The wife doesn’t work, but has a luxury mid-sized SUV with 11K miles that’s paid for. But, it’s her baby and she’s not inclined to let me drive it to work (she’s put up with a lot in our marriage, so I’m not pushing it). I’m 54 with annual income of $215K and net worth just over 7 figures (most in tax deferred). I also have 2 pensions that will total around $65K. Mortgage is paid and we have zero other debt, however we’re saving cash to fund a new house. 1 year of expenses in an EF. I guess my options are:

1. Keep the Prius C and not worry about the less than stellar crash ratings. It’s got 132K miles on it, but zero problems, minimal maintenance, and sips gas. It’s probably worth around $3k on a trade or $4K private party sale.

2. Pull $10-15K out of my EF and buy something a few years old that’s got better ratings but with significant miles (probably 60K or more)

3. Spend $25-30K to buy something closer to new or brand new with all the latest safety tech and minimal miles

The problem with option 2 is I have an aversion to putting that much money into something I’m not that excited about. After 4 years and another 30K miles, its value and desirability will be low.

Option 3 would probably require borrowing $10-15K since we’re going to need a significant chunk of money to pay cash for the new house in a little over a year and I wouldn't want to pull the entire $30K from my EF.

First world problems right? So, am I being stupid by considering tossing out a perfectly functional car in the interest of a marginal safety increase?
Last edited by margaritaville on Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RootSki
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by RootSki »

This is why I drive Volvo. I never have to think about my survivability in an accident. It's insurance, with better seats.
Silk McCue
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by Silk McCue »

I'll cut to the chase.

Nothing wrong in buying new or newish car that provides greater safety through structural integrity and improved safety features. You don't need anyone's approval to do so whether it is rational or irrational doesn't matter.

You can clearly afford it so just do it. No reason to explain to anyone regarding your motivations.

Cheers
quantAndHold
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by quantAndHold »

I read an article the other day that said the safest way to commute was by taking transit. So there’s that...

If you’re really worried, option 3 is probably best. Get the latest safety features. Keep in mind that once you do retire, you’ll probably drive a *lot* fewer miles. So whatever you get, you’re probably gonna have it for awhile. I went from a 22 mile commute to driving 3k miles per year. This car’s never going to die.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
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Watty
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by Watty »

margaritaville wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:41 pm So, am I being stupid by considering tossing out a perfectly functional car in the interest of a marginal safety increase?
You would not be tossing it out, you would be selling it.

There is a lot more than just size that determines how safe a car is.

It is a bit morbid but one key statistic to look at is the driver death rate for cars.

https://www.iihs.org/ratings/driver-dea ... -and-model

Be sure to look at the number range they give and not just the first number since there is a lot of uncertainty in cars that do not have a lot of cars on the road.

This will be a few model years behind since it takes a while to get the real world statistics. Most of the cars with the advanced safety features are too new to be included in these statistics.

The statistics go back to 2002 so be sure to look back at the cars then to see how much progress has been made compared to your 2012.
margaritaville wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:41 pm I’m 54 with annual income of $215K and net worth just over 7 figures (most in tax deferred). I also have 2 pensions that will total around $65K.

So, now when I drive to work all I think about is what would happen if a car ran through an intersection and hit me broadside or crossed the center-line and smacked me.
You can afford to buy a safer car but there is no need to buy a monster truck that will be a lot more likely to kill someone if you run through an intersection or cross the center line and hit someone.

Even before all the latest advanced safety features some of the small and midsize cars and SUVs have a lot better driver death rates than your current car.

With being so close to retirement you could be in one of the rare situations where leasing a car might make sense if you would want a different car once you are retired.
adamthesmythe
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by adamthesmythe »

I used to drive a Miata, low to the ground, small, and probably capable of driving underneath some of the tractor-trailers on the road. I did feel somewhat vulnerable on the interstate.

Now I drive a crossover, not a big one but more...reassuring... for highway driving. Of course, it sucks around the curves.

Thre is an enormous range of vulnerability. If you really fear collisions then the Hummer or a really big pickup is the vehicle for you. Most of us end up somewhere between a Yaris/Miata/Smartcar and the really big vehicles. Newer vehicles, especially not at the very bottom of the line, have a fair number of safety features that reduce your risk. No matter what you do you can't reduce it to zero (except possibly by not driving, and staying home).

You pays your money and you takes your chances.
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margaritaville
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by margaritaville »

Silk McCue wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 3:03 pm
You can clearly afford it so just do it. No reason to explain to anyone regarding your motivations.

Cheers
Yep, just trying to overcome the inertia preventing me from putting money into a non-appreciating asset. Seems to be a common problem around here :|
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RickBoglehead
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by RickBoglehead »

There's a difference between an irrational fear and facts. If one vehicle tests noticeably safer than another, that's facts. Of course a frontal accident score doesn't help when a tree topples on the vehicle and crushes you through the roof...

Buy whatever makes you feel comfortable. It's irrational to seek approval from internet strangers. 8-)
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

Look. You have to be able to sleep at night and you have to feel comfortable doing life. If the Prius is stressing you out, and since you make a bazillion dollars a year (comparatively), go buy something that you'll feel comfortable in.

And that's coming from a guy who's owned an MG Midget and a Lotus Elise, both of which make your Prius look like a ginormous SUV by comparison.
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Topic Author
margaritaville
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by margaritaville »

Watty wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 3:26 pm With being so close to retirement you could be in one of the rare situations where leasing a car might make sense if you would want a different car once you are retired.
Thanks--that's something I hadn't really considered. Looks like Chevy has a pretty good low mileage lease deal on the Bolt EV.

$239/mo with $2219 due at signing. I've never leased a car before so I'll have to do some more research to see if it might make sense.

https://www.chevrolet.com/current-deals ... ev:bolt-ev

Or not. Safety doesn't look all that impressive:

https://www.nhtsa.gov/vehicle/2019/CHEV ... gs-frontal
Last edited by margaritaville on Tue Jan 07, 2020 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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greg24
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by greg24 »

The safest thing to do is eliminate a 22 mile commute.

Retire, telecommute, move closer, etc.
delamer
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by delamer »

A serious auto accident is one of those low probability but high cost situations.

In that way, buying a car with more safety features is equivalent to buying insurance to cover such a situation.

Ask yourself this question — would you want a loved one like your wife or child driving your car in your commute?

Also, I suggest you do some more research. I drive a 2014 luxury sedan (bought used) with excellent safety features (airbags; rear camera; blindspot) and crash test ratings. I just did a quick search, and my model year can be purchased for less than $20,000 with fewer than 35,000 miles.
BuckyBadger
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by BuckyBadger »

We as a family made a choice to only buy cars that were rated IIHS Top Safety Pick or Pick+.

It helps us sleep at night and we can afford it.
azanon
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by azanon »

BuckyBadger wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:40 pm We as a family made a choice to only buy cars that were rated IIHS Top Safety Pick or Pick+.

It helps us sleep at night and we can afford it.
All should be careful deriving too much peace from these, due to something the IIHS has pointed out on a few occasions:

Those rankings are vs. other cars in their respective classes. But, in a situation such as the safest subcompact car colliding with the least safe large SUV - you're going to want to be in the SUV. So to the OP's point, a top safety pick+ subcompact car is not very safe at all when compared to something much larger/heavier. They're only safe compared to other tiny cars.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by deanbrew »

I find threads like this interesting, if sort of bewildering. I pay no attention to safety features or safety statistics when I buy a vehicle. I've driven everything from a 1980 Ford Fiesta and 1983 Honda CRX (very small and light compared to today's vehicles) to Ford and Honda vans to a full-size Chevy conversion van to a 2016 Nissan Maxima with lots of safety and convenience features. I've never felt unsafe in any of them. In fact, I never gave it much thought at all.

I wouldn't trade a vehicle you're happy with for safety features, or especially for government/insurance safety stats that likely have more to do with who drives which vehicles than the vehicles themselves. I realize this mindset is far different from many Bogleheads, and I don't intend to start an argument, but the probability of getting into a debilitation crash is so minuscule that it seems silly to plan for it. That's just me, but I thought I would present an alternative viewpoint.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by 123 »

The easiest way to make ANY car safer is to put your smart phone in the trunk while you are driving.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by surfstar »

Buy a Prius Prime.

You can get a brand new one for under $20k with negotiating, tax credits, state/utility rebates. It'll make your commute on electric only unless really cold, too.

My wife just got one to replace (sooner than she wanted) her Mazda2. The Mazda was fine still. 2012 with 122k miles. Reliable. Ok mileage. Prius is safer, has ACC (adaptive cruise control) and other features and was such a great deal, and so economical to own, that it really wasn't much of an increase in transportation costs to upgrade now vs waiting.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by delamer »

azanon wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:48 pm
BuckyBadger wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:40 pm We as a family made a choice to only buy cars that were rated IIHS Top Safety Pick or Pick+.

It helps us sleep at night and we can afford it.
All should be careful deriving too much peace from these, due to something the IIHS has pointed out on a few occasions:

Those rankings are vs. other cars in their respective classes. But, in a situation such as the safest subcompact car colliding with the least safe large SUV - you're going to want to be in the SUV. So to the OP's point, a top safety pick+ subcompact car is not very safe at all when compared to something much larger/heavier. They're only safe compared to other tiny cars.
This is an important, and frequently overlooked, point.

There’s no way I’d drive (or be a passenger in) some subcompacts, particularly on a highway.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by BuckyBadger »

azanon wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:48 pm
BuckyBadger wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:40 pm We as a family made a choice to only buy cars that were rated IIHS Top Safety Pick or Pick+.

It helps us sleep at night and we can afford it.
All should be careful deriving too much peace from these, due to something the IIHS has pointed out on a few occasions:

Those rankings are vs. other cars in their respective classes. But, in a situation such as the safest subcompact car colliding with the least safe large SUV - you're going to want to be in the SUV. So to the OP's point, a top safety pick+ subcompact car is not very safe at all when compared to something much larger/heavier. They're only safe compared to other tiny cars.
Yes, agreed. In my attempt to be brief I did neglect to mention that we don't drive subcompact or compact cars.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by ohai »

If you are pressed for cash, I wouldn't worry about upgrading your car. Even a car that is 3x as safe means your death rate will go from like 0.01% to 0.003% or something like that. People before 2012 drove less safe cars and everyone with fine with that.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by dknightd »

Yes, your fear is irrational.
It does not matter what you drive, there will always be something bigger out there.
Drive defensibly. Do the best you can to avoid collisions. Or buy a tank.
If you value a bird in the hand, pay off the loan. If you are willing to risk getting two birds (or none) from the market, invest the funds.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by Jags4186 »

Personally, I think anyone who doesn't drive to work in an M1 Abrams is taking unnecessary risk. What's great about it is that I no longer need to stop at red lights or stop signs. A cement truck could broadside me and I wouldn't know it. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by jabberwockOG »

Lots of flippant posts by folks that may never have been in a serious car accident. Driving a car is likely the most dangerous thing most average folks do on a daily basis.

If you drive a lot (like having a 22mile daily commute), it makes good sense to drive a medium to larger size vehicle that does well in the government crash ratings. In a typical crash physics is king and all things being equal, the smaller lighter vehicle usually absorbs most of the energy of a crash.
finite_difference
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by finite_difference »

RickBoglehead wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 3:33 pm There's a difference between an irrational fear and facts. If one vehicle tests noticeably safer than another, that's facts. Of course a frontal accident score doesn't help when a tree topples on the vehicle and crushes you through the roof...

Buy whatever makes you feel comfortable. It's irrational to seek approval from internet strangers. 8-)
I agree with the first point.

Cars are a lot safer in general than they were 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago.

Back then, you should’ve been terrified to enter a car!

But I don’t think it’s irrational to seek counsel from a smart group of anonymous people on the Internet. Crowd-sourcing is one of the good things about the Internet.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by Fletch »

https://informedforlife.org

Another good site to review.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by sambb »

If it make syou happy and safer and you can afford it, why not buy it.
I believe Millionaire Next Door author was killed driving a corvette. Terrible to lose life in a car accident./
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by stoptothink »

dknightd wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 5:29 pm Yes, your fear is irrational.
It does not matter what you drive, there will always be something bigger out there.
Drive defensibly. Do the best you can to avoid collisions. Or buy a tank.
I love these threads. You want to decrease your chances of being injured in a car crash?...drive less. It's OK to say you want a bigger/nicer vehicle.
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RickBoglehead
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by RickBoglehead »

sambb wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:41 pm If it make syou happy and safer and you can afford it, why not buy it.
I believe Millionaire Next Door author was killed driving a corvette. Terrible to lose life in a car accident./
He was t-boned. Don't believe any of the crash tests test t-boning accidents.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by dbr »

It is a fact in general that the more driving you do and the smaller the car you do it in the greater your chance of death or injury in an auto accident, other factors being equal.* Whether or not being killed or injured in an auto accident is an irrational fear I guess I couldn't say. Auto accidents are a subset of accidental deaths altogether which are about third down in the causes of death in the United States, but the leading cause of death in people that are not elderly. So statistically it does not seem irrational to fear a greater incidence of death or injury driving a lot in a small car compared to driving a lot in a larger car.

*Other factors would probably be driving or riding with people who are drunk, driving recklessly, or driving distracted, not using seatbelts (still), driving on more dangerous roads such as heavily traveled high speed two lane roads rather than Interstates or city streets, and finally driving or riding in much older cars with less up to date safety features.

It isn't unreasonable to choose a not tiny car that is up to date and to work on cutting down miles driven.
MarkBarb
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by MarkBarb »

Back in my 20s, I took a life insurance survey that returned a list of my biggest fatality risks in the next 10 years. Car accident was by far the most likely cause of death on the list. Yes, the chances were still small, but they dwarfed everything else. Car deaths aren't so common that we should all live in terror, but they do kill tens of thousands of people every year in the US. I have had the not unusual misfortune of knowing several people that died in car accidents.

Like everything in life, cars have trade-offs. Someone that completely ignores the safety aspects of something so dangerous is being foolish. On the flip side, you shouldn't live your life constantly afraid of what might happen.

Look at some options. Look into the real change in odds of a different car saving you from death or severe disability. Think about whether the incremental cost is worth the difference. For us, car safety was one of the most important factors for each of the daily drivers that we own. On the other hand, I bought a play car that is not even close to being a safe car. I drive it sparingly and defensively making a conscious decision to take that extra risk. Everyone makes their own trade-offs.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by Inframan4712 »

Fletch wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:16 pm https://informedforlife.org

Another good site to review.
The Genesis G80 is on their list of safest vehicles, which is full of SUVs. In contrast, the G80 is one of the quietest, most comfortable cars I’ve ever been in, much less owned.

You can get a 2017 G80 with 45k miles for $24k from Carvana, just as an example. And you’ll be commuting in style. On a recent 200 mile road trip I got 26mpg at an average speed of 70mph per the trip computer.

I’ll take that over a Prius any day.
Last edited by Inframan4712 on Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by finite_difference »

RickBoglehead wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:59 pm
sambb wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:41 pm If it make syou happy and safer and you can afford it, why not buy it.
I believe Millionaire Next Door author was killed driving a corvette. Terrible to lose life in a car accident./
He was t-boned. Don't believe any of the crash tests test t-boning accidents.
They do. See “Side barrier crash test scenario”, https://www.nhtsa.gov/ratings
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by RickBoglehead »

finite_difference wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:39 pm
RickBoglehead wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:59 pm
sambb wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:41 pm If it make syou happy and safer and you can afford it, why not buy it.
I believe Millionaire Next Door author was killed driving a corvette. Terrible to lose life in a car accident./
He was t-boned. Don't believe any of the crash tests test t-boning accidents.
They do. See “Side barrier crash test scenario”, https://www.nhtsa.gov/ratings
Thx.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by aerosurfer »

This is an entertaining thread...

Much of this I liken to people’s fear of shark bites. Statistically the Florida Atlantic coast is the most likely place to get bitten by a shark. However when you consider there are a few dozen bites around the world in a given year and a third or less happen in Florida simply becomes a math game, but to call it inherently more dangerous is ludicrous. Notice bitten is not the same as deaths.

Cars continue to become safer when compared to previous technology, but that doesn’t mean old is less safe, it just means the standard has been raised, but to what diminished returns do we strive for perfection. Yes thousands of people die in car crashes each year, but against a 300 million person population, it is a ridiculous fear, statistically speaking.

When you factor in the safety rating are based on the classes of similar cars not compact vs SUV, it becomes even harder to gauge emotion over Math. And that’s why the automakers can continue to charge what they do and can sell cars and the consumer economy is designed how it is.

Live your life, make the best choices you can afford, but much of what is being said is laughable.
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margaritaville
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by margaritaville »

Fletch wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:16 pm https://informedforlife.org

Another good site to review.
Thanks for posting this. There is some really good info at that site. With the exception of a handful of vehicles, the safest ones all come in at 4,000 lbs and up.

As much as folks criticized me (in a good natured way) for asking the opinions of strangers on the internet, it did give me some additional points of view to consider. One thing that should have been obvious to me coming from a technical background is that I shouldn't feel safe in a small car just because it gets a top safety pick or 5 star rating. While I was considering moving to a better rated small or mid-sized sedan, I realize that's probably not buying me much. Size and mass are major factors in the safety equation.

I may just have to convince the wife to let me drive her SUV to work until I figure out what to do in the long term.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by gougou »

Buy a Cybertruck :D
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by Silk McCue »

aerosurfer wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:53 pm ...

Live your life, make the best choices you can afford, but much of what is being said is laughable.
I guess it depends on how many of your family and friends have died or been made permanently disabled in car and motorcycle accidents.

Cheers
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by H-Town »

margaritaville wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:41 pm First world problems right? So, am I being stupid by considering tossing out a perfectly functional car in the interest of a marginal safety increase?
Not stupid. You're just being wrong by considering tossing out a perfectly functional car in the interest of a marginal safety increase.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by atikovi »

margaritaville wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:41 pmAm I being irrational and just looking for an excuse to get a new car? Or, would you be concerned? I’m about 4 years away from retirement and don’t want to spend my remaining years disabled.
At your age I'd be more concerned about cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's than car accidents.
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Watty
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by Watty »

delamer wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:58 pm
azanon wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:48 pm
BuckyBadger wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:40 pm We as a family made a choice to only buy cars that were rated IIHS Top Safety Pick or Pick+.

It helps us sleep at night and we can afford it.
All should be careful deriving too much peace from these, due to something the IIHS has pointed out on a few occasions:

Those rankings are vs. other cars in their respective classes. But, in a situation such as the safest subcompact car colliding with the least safe large SUV - you're going to want to be in the SUV. So to the OP's point, a top safety pick+ subcompact car is not very safe at all when compared to something much larger/heavier. They're only safe compared to other tiny cars.
This is an important, and frequently overlooked, point.

There’s no way I’d drive (or be a passenger in) some subcompacts, particularly on a highway.
While very important it is a lot more complicated than just car size.

See the link in my post above about the driver death rates in various cars.

It would not be typical but a few small cars might have lower driver death rates than some of the worst large cars. This is especially true if you are comparing a new small car with improved safety features to a ten+ year old large car.
Small Savanna
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by Small Savanna »

I wouldn't call your fear irrational. Unlike shark bites, lightning bolts, meteorites, or airplane travel, car accidents actually do cause a lot of deaths, about 1% of all deaths in the United States. And for every death, there are multiple serious injuries. If you want to read up on all the other dangers that we face, here is an interesting web site:

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm

In addition to having a safe car, it's a good idea to avoid motorcycles and ladders. Of course, no matter what you do, the death rate is eventually 100%.
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Watty
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by Watty »

atikovi wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 8:07 pm
margaritaville wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:41 pmAm I being irrational and just looking for an excuse to get a new car? Or, would you be concerned? I’m about 4 years away from retirement and don’t want to spend my remaining years disabled.
At your age I'd be more concerned about cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's than car accidents.
There is lots of information about the causes of death on the internet.

https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/LeadingCauses.html

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Tdubs
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by Tdubs »

Watty wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 3:26 pm
margaritaville wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:41 pm So, am I being stupid by considering tossing out a perfectly functional car in the interest of a marginal safety increase?
You would not be tossing it out, you would be selling it.

There is a lot more than just size that determines how safe a car is.

It is a bit morbid but one key statistic to look at is the driver death rate for cars.

https://www.iihs.org/ratings/driver-dea ... -and-model

Be sure to look at the number range they give and not just the first number since there is a lot of uncertainty in cars that do not have a lot of cars on the road.

This will be a few model years behind since it takes a while to get the real world statistics. Most of the cars with the advanced safety features are too new to be included in these statistics.

The statistics go back to 2002 so be sure to look back at the cars then to see how much progress has been made compared to your 2012.
margaritaville wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:41 pm I’m 54 with annual income of $215K and net worth just over 7 figures (most in tax deferred). I also have 2 pensions that will total around $65K.

So, now when I drive to work all I think about is what would happen if a car ran through an intersection and hit me broadside or crossed the center-line and smacked me.
You can afford to buy a safer car but there is no need to buy a monster truck that will be a lot more likely to kill someone if you run through an intersection or cross the center line and hit someone.

Even before all the latest advanced safety features some of the small and midsize cars and SUVs have a lot better driver death rates than your current car.

With being so close to retirement you could be in one of the rare situations where leasing a car might make sense if you would want a different car once you are retired.
According to this website, a Fiat 500 has a lower death rate than a Suburban and a Yukon. So does a Civic.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by atikovi »

Tdubs wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 8:31 pm
According to this website, a Fiat 500 has a lower death rate than a Suburban and a Yukon. So does a Civic.
I'd rather drive my Fiat or Smart than any SUV.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by holycow007 »

RootSki wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:59 pm This is why I drive Volvo. I never have to think about my survivability in an accident. It's insurance, with better seats.
Survivability can be painful which is the OPs concern.
However I agree with the insurance and the better seats comment. I drive one myself :sharebeer

OP, As others have said, if you can afford go get one with a better safety rating.
But maintain the good driving as done with smaller car and no need to buy a hummer either.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by stlutz »

It's worth considering the likelihood of actually getting into a crash with a particular car. If you drive a big vehicle that is hard to stop, it's a lot more likely that you're going to hit someone else. Getting injured in a crash is bad; killing someone with your giant truck will kind of ruin your life too.

SUV's get into a lot of single car crashes because of their height.

At the end of the day the biggest variables are how much your drive, how you drive, and when you drive (4th of July is not a good day to be out, nor just after bars close on the weekend). Those are all things you can control without spending a dime.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by iamlucky13 »

margaritaville wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 3:31 pm
Silk McCue wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 3:03 pm
You can clearly afford it so just do it. No reason to explain to anyone regarding your motivations.

Cheers
Yep, just trying to overcome the inertia preventing me from putting money into a non-appreciating asset. Seems to be a common problem around here :|
The value of the Prius is already in a non-appreciating asset. By buying something newer, you'd be increasing what you spend on a declining-value asset, but also the remaining useful life, which partially offsets the former, and comes particularly close if you buy slightly used.

But don't get caught up in the declining value mindset. A car is not an investment. A car is a living expense that serves a purpose you want fulfilled. You would be spending more for greater utility (safety and peace of mind).

Personally, I worry very little about driving a small car, having previously examined closely both the tables in Watty's post and the IIHS model-specific vehicle fatality data. The car you drive and the one I drive both show approximately average overall fatality risk.

I look at these data and have a much less alarmed response than many people on these forums. However, this sounds like a purchase well within your means and it addresses a strong want you have. This purchase is going to have a minimal effect on when you are able to retire, but it will affect your mood for a significant part of your daily routine until then.
LoveTheBogle
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by LoveTheBogle »

deanbrew wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:51 pm I find threads like this interesting, if sort of bewildering. I pay no attention to safety features or safety statistics when I buy a vehicle. I've driven everything from a 1980 Ford Fiesta and 1983 Honda CRX (very small and light compared to today's vehicles) to Ford and Honda vans to a full-size Chevy conversion van to a 2016 Nissan Maxima with lots of safety and convenience features. I've never felt unsafe in any of them. In fact, I never gave it much thought at all.

I wouldn't trade a vehicle you're happy with for safety features, or especially for government/insurance safety stats that likely have more to do with who drives which vehicles than the vehicles themselves. I realize this mindset is far different from many Bogleheads, and I don't intend to start an argument, but the probability of getting into a debilitation crash is so minuscule that it seems silly to plan for it. That's just me, but I thought I would present an alternative viewpoint.
But why not plan for something that has a greater than zero percent chance of happening..... all else being equal in terms of features, comforts, etc.

The op has anxiety, and rightfully so, if he gets in a wreck with another vehicle the likelihood of him being in the smaller vehicle is high and the chance of injury is higher than if he had something bigger/safer.

OP you can afford it. Get a different vehicle, it won’t even be a blip in your finances.
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by H-Town »

stlutz wrote: Tue Jan 07, 2020 9:16 pm It's worth considering the likelihood of actually getting into a crash with a particular car. If you drive a big vehicle that is hard to stop, it's a lot more likely that you're going to hit someone else. Getting injured in a crash is bad; killing someone with your giant truck will kind of ruin your life too.

SUV's get into a lot of single car crashes because of their height.

At the end of the day the biggest variables are how much your drive, how you drive, and when you drive (4th of July is not a good day to be out, nor just after bars close on the weekend). Those are all things you can control without spending a dime.
+1

OP: see this post.
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Monk
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Re: Irrational Fear of Injury in Small Car?

Post by Monk »

One part of vehicle accident statistics I've never understood is the impact of the driving habits of the sample of owners of a particular vehicle. For instance, on the informedforlife.org site, the Audi Q8 upscale SUV seems to be particularly safe. On the other end of the scale, lets choose an economy compact like a Toyota Yaris (I'm not actually looking up fatality rates - just picking a smaller, cheap car off the top of my head). The buyers of the Q8 represent a sample of the overall driving public, and their driving habits may not be representative of the overall driving public. Perhaps the Q8 drivers have safer driving habits than the rest of the hoi polloi.

Thought experiment: If the Q8 drivers switched into Toyota Yarises (Yarii?), would the Yaris fatality rates go down, making this vehicle appear more safe, despite weight and crash ratings remaining the same? If all us peasant schmucks drove Q8s like we drive our Yarii, would the Q8 "become" less safe?

I'd love to see a comparison of two very different vehicles purchased by similar demographics to extract the actual role of weight and crash ratings in fatality statistics. Anecdotally, part of the reason Volvos are so safe is partly because yes, these are safe vehicles, but also because Volvo drivers skew towards upper middle aged, upper middle class caucasian women, who have relatively few accidents regardless of the vehicle they drive.
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