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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Stachetastic on March 08, 2016, 12:03:51 PM

Title: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Stachetastic on March 08, 2016, 12:03:51 PM
Ok, so I've already read the MMM article about safety being an expensive illusion. I get it. My world would be much safer if I stayed out of my car completely. But (my) life doesn't work like that. While I have a <2mile commute, I drive my car hundreds of miles per week for my job. So biking is out of the questions for me. Also, I must take my son to child care daily, which is on a 55mph county road with a very narrow berm. In the dark several months of the year. 

Now that we've established that, here is my current fleet of commuters:
2004 Corolla with 240k miles
2005 Matrix with 165k miles

These cars are both in excellent running order. The Corolla needs a new cat converter, but I'm ignoring it since we live in a state with no emissions testing. I'm the original owner of the Corolla and is has been a pleasure to drive, every single mile. I have a sentimental attachment to this car. I do home visits for my job, so it's very nice to have a car I don't mind taking down back alleys, traversing huge pot holes, narrow streets, making u turns, etc. Just this week, it got caked in mud from driving back country roads that were not paved. But now I've got kiddos and safety is on my mind. I'd really like to have something with side air bags, and a back up camera would be a dream. (I realize these can be added after market). My husband recently accepted a job very close to home, so he can be biking very soon, once he is done with training. What say you, MMM? Should we ditch one of the cars and get something with some safety features? Should we ditch them both in favor of one super-safe-mobile? Am I being paranoid?
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: ooeei on March 08, 2016, 12:11:46 PM
I may be wrong here, but I thought airbags were designed for adults.  That's why kids aren't supposed to ride in the front seat.  I don't foresee side air bags helping out your kids too much in a crash. 

With regard to the catalytic converter, I vote get it fixed even though it's not legally required.  There are plenty of things states don't check for that are bad for the environment, that doesn't mean you should do them.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Stachetastic on March 08, 2016, 12:20:36 PM
I may be wrong here, but I thought airbags were designed for adults.  That's why kids aren't supposed to ride in the front seat.  I don't foresee side air bags helping out your kids too much in a crash. 

With regard to the catalytic converter, I vote get it fixed even though it's not legally required.  There are plenty of things states don't check for that are bad for the environment, that doesn't mean you should do them.

Both excellent points. While airbags may not protect my kids, they would help ensure my kids still have parents around should we be in an accident. :)

Also, my concern about fixing the cat is in regards to the value of the car (i.e. very little) and also the environmental impact on manufacturing a new cat and the disposal of the old. I read recently that the environmental impact would likely be a wash.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: ooeei on March 08, 2016, 12:45:15 PM
Both excellent points. While airbags may not protect my kids, they would help ensure my kids still have parents around should we be in an accident. :)

True, I'm just not very familiar with how the statistics work out here.  If a brand new car improves your safety by 2%, it's probably not justified. If it's 50% improved, it may be, although really the risk is so low to begin with it probably still doesn't matter.  According to http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/state-by-state-overview the death rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled is ~1 depending on your state.  The per person rate hovers between about 8-20/100,000, so 0.008%-0.020%.  Even if your safety features cut your risk in half (which I doubt they do), it's still really low.  In the page I linked it shows that around half of the people who die in wrecks are not wearing a seat belt.  A quick search shows seat belt use rates ranging from 70-95% in most states, so just wearing your seatbelt makes your statistics even more favorable than I quoted.  Maybe try to look up old vs new cars and see how they stack up?

That being said, there is still always a chance.  If you'll sleep better at night with a safer car, go for it, but make sure you know what you're giving up for it.  I'm guessing walking a mile more than you do now every day will have a statistically larger benefit to your health.  More bonding time with the kiddos too!

Quote
Also, my concern about fixing the cat is in regards to the value of the car (i.e. very little) and also the environmental impact on manufacturing a new cat and the disposal of the old. I read recently that the environmental impact would likely be a wash.

A good point I hadn't thought of!
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: lthenderson on March 08, 2016, 01:03:35 PM
I seen this asked lots of times and it always elicits passionate responses from both sides of the crowd. Me personally, I think there are better ways to increase your odds of a long life other than spending money to have the latest "necessary" safety feature. My daily driver is a 1998 Honda.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Stachetastic on March 08, 2016, 01:03:43 PM
Both excellent points. While airbags may not protect my kids, they would help ensure my kids still have parents around should we be in an accident. :)

True, I'm just not very familiar with how the statistics work out here.  If a brand new car improves your safety by 2%, it's probably not justified. If it's 50% improved, it may be, although really the risk is so low to begin with it probably still doesn't matter.  According to http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/state-by-state-overview the death rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled is ~1 depending on your state.  The per person rate hovers between about 8-20/100,000, so 0.008%-0.020%.  Even if your safety features cut your risk in half (which I doubt they do), it's still really low.  In the page I linked it shows that around half of the people who die in wrecks are not wearing a seat belt.  A quick search shows seat belt use rates ranging from 70-95% in most states, so just wearing your seatbelt makes your statistics even more favorable than I quoted.  Maybe try to look up old vs new cars and see how they stack up?

Thank you! This is exactly the kind of info I was looking for. I'll take a closer look as soon as I get a chance.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: otter on March 08, 2016, 01:08:11 PM
If you drove, say, a 1967 something then you'd have an excellent case for getting a new car on a safety basis. But the safety improvements of a new car over your ~10-year-old cars are going to be pretty marginal. I wouldn't.

Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: ketchup on March 08, 2016, 02:02:42 PM
Our two cars are a 1992 and a 1999.  The 1992 has airbags.  The 1999 had airbags from the factory, but the airbag light has been on since I bought it.  We hit a deer at 60mph in the 1992 last May in the middle of the night and the car was "fine" (needed a new driver-side window glass and a headlight), the airbag did not need to deploy, and we were fine (but shaken up because holy crap a deer).

Neither car has a backup camera of course, but they both have far better visibility than newer cars that tend to have backup cameras.  My mom drives a 2015 Prius that would be nearly unusable without a backup camera.  A newer car with a backup camera and crappier visibility would be a wash at best.

Our next vehicles will likely be newer, and therefore will have more safety features, just like they will have everything-else features.  But those won't be why we "upgrade" when we do.

As others have stated, larger variables into the safety equation are wearing seatbelts, driving fewer miles, not driving like an idiot, and being careful.  At least three of those are 100% in your control.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: RWD on March 08, 2016, 02:14:24 PM
With regard to the catalytic converter, I vote get it fixed even though it's not legally required.  There are plenty of things states don't check for that are bad for the environment, that doesn't mean you should do them.

Also, my concern about fixing the cat is in regards to the value of the car (i.e. very little) and also the environmental impact on manufacturing a new cat and the disposal of the old. I read recently that the environmental impact would likely be a wash.

You can get a universal catalytic converter for less than $100. Example:
http://www.summitracing.com/search/part-type/catalytic-converters
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: dycker1978 on March 08, 2016, 02:38:04 PM
I may be wrong here, but I thought airbags were designed for adults.  That's why kids aren't supposed to ride in the front seat.  I don't foresee side air bags helping out your kids too much in a crash. 

With regard to the catalytic converter, I vote get it fixed even though it's not legally required.  There are plenty of things states don't check for that are bad for the environment, that doesn't mean you should do them.

Both excellent points. While airbags may not protect my kids, they would help ensure my kids still have parents around should we be in an accident. :)

Also, my concern about fixing the cat is in regards to the value of the car (i.e. very little) and also the environmental impact on manufacturing a new cat and the disposal of the old. I read recently that the environmental impact would likely be a wash.

So you don't want to get your cat convertor fixed because the environmental concern of the disposal of the old one, but it does not concern you that you want to dispose the whole car?
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: 2Birds1Stone on March 08, 2016, 04:09:06 PM
I think you have to draw a line when it comes to frugality and safety.

I drive a 2004 Nissan Sentra (base model). It does not have ABS, traction control, or any side/curtain airbags.

While it has served it's purpose I do often think about the potential safety shortcomings of my vehicle.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: lbmustache on March 08, 2016, 04:22:14 PM
I think the biggest safety benefits you will see are with ABS and traction control. For those reasons, I vote getting into a newer car.

Safety is an illusion and it's all really down to chance, but I'd rather be in a newer/safer car than an older one. There's probably zero difference (safety-wise) between a 2012 and 2015 Corolla but there absolutely is between a 1995 Corolla, 2005 Corolla, and 2015 Corolla.

If you have no debt emergencies and are financially OK, it can't hurt to get something used but newer. There are plenty of newer cars in the $10-$12k range. If your husband doesn't need a car, I'd ditch both of them. Maybe you can sell one and keep the other one (but not use it) to see if the one-car life is for you?
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Uturn on March 08, 2016, 05:50:11 PM
If you drove, say, a 1967 something then you'd have an excellent case for getting a new car on a safety basis. But the safety improvements of a new car over your ~10-year-old cars are going to be pretty marginal. I wouldn't.

I'll give you my 2014 Altima right now for this. To hell with shoulder straps and crumple zones.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: chesebert on March 08, 2016, 07:34:18 PM
Learn how to drive, drive less and drive safely. Problems solved and no need for a new car.

ABS = pumping breaks
Traction Control = slow down when it's pouring or snowing and learn how to counteract your car's motion

If you don't know how to do the above, I suggest you go take a driving class. A skilled driver who drives defensively beats any safety technology you can cram into a car.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: tobitonic on March 08, 2016, 08:41:00 PM
Ok, so I've already read the MMM article about safety being an expensive illusion. I get it. My world would be much safer if I stayed out of my car completely. But (my) life doesn't work like that. While I have a <2mile commute, I drive my car hundreds of miles per week for my job. So biking is out of the questions for me. Also, I must take my son to child care daily, which is on a 55mph county road with a very narrow berm. In the dark several months of the year. 

Now that we've established that, here is my current fleet of commuters:
2004 Corolla with 240k miles
2005 Matrix with 165k miles

These cars are both in excellent running order. The Corolla needs a new cat converter, but I'm ignoring it since we live in a state with no emissions testing. I'm the original owner of the Corolla and is has been a pleasure to drive, every single mile. I have a sentimental attachment to this car. I do home visits for my job, so it's very nice to have a car I don't mind taking down back alleys, traversing huge pot holes, narrow streets, making u turns, etc. Just this week, it got caked in mud from driving back country roads that were not paved. But now I've got kiddos and safety is on my mind. I'd really like to have something with side air bags, and a back up camera would be a dream. (I realize these can be added after market). My husband recently accepted a job very close to home, so he can be biking very soon, once he is done with training. What say you, MMM? Should we ditch one of the cars and get something with some safety features? Should we ditch them both in favor of one super-safe-mobile? Am I being paranoid?

The vast majority of folks here are going to tell you not to worry about it. I'm going to offer a different perspective.

Besides driving sober, buckling up, not using your phone, following the speed limit, using winter tires in the winter, and of course, driving as little as possible, the best thing you can do for your son is to keep him rear-facing as long as possible (ideally until at least 4 (http://www.thecarcrashdetective.com/2015/07/3-out-of-4-parents-forward-face-too-early.html/)). This will make more of a difference than the kind of vehicle by far. If your child is already forward-facing but is under 4, keep in mind that you can turn him back to rear-face again. And once you decide to forward-face permanently, he should remain harnessed (until ideally 8 (http://thecarcrashdetective.com/2014/06/when-is-it-safe-to-switch-from-forward.html)) and then in a booster (until probably 10 to 12 (http://www.thecarcrashdetective.com/2014/10/when-can-kids-stop-using-boosters-a-guide-to-the-5-step-test/)).

Beyond the car seat issue, which I don't think anyone addressed (this is what I mean about offering a different perspective), my personal threshold for vehicles these days are a.) ESC and b.) side airbags. ESC is considered about as revolutionary as the seat belt in preventing deaths, and side airbags are basically the only thing between you and certain death in a 30 mph t-bone. Things like ABS and traction control offer virtually no safety advantages in comparison to the things I just mentioned, but pretty much every safety organization is clear on the benefits of side airbags and ESC. Neither of your vehicles have either of these features. For me, that would be worth the upgrade.

It doesn't have to cost that much either. An '05 Honda Odyssey will give you both features and can be had used for around 7k, for example.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: TheLazyMan on March 08, 2016, 11:38:58 PM
You can investigate crash death rates for vehicles you're considering.
http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/driver-death-rates

The fatality rate in new vehicles fell by 1/3 from 2008-2011.
"The chances of dying in a crash in a late-model vehicle have fallen by more than a third in three years, the latest IIHS calculations of driver death rates show."
http://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr/statusreport/article/50/1/1
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Stachetastic on March 09, 2016, 05:54:06 AM
I may be wrong here, but I thought airbags were designed for adults.  That's why kids aren't supposed to ride in the front seat.  I don't foresee side air bags helping out your kids too much in a crash. 

With regard to the catalytic converter, I vote get it fixed even though it's not legally required.  There are plenty of things states don't check for that are bad for the environment, that doesn't mean you should do them.

Both excellent points. While airbags may not protect my kids, they would help ensure my kids still have parents around should we be in an accident. :)

Also, my concern about fixing the cat is in regards to the value of the car (i.e. very little) and also the environmental impact on manufacturing a new cat and the disposal of the old. I read recently that the environmental impact would likely be a wash.

So you don't want to get your cat convertor fixed because the environmental concern of the disposal of the old one, but it does not concern you that you want to dispose the whole car?

Well, my intention would be to sell the entire (running) car to someone less concerned about safety issues. It has a lot of life left. I don't think there's much of a market for faltering catalytic converters, so it would need to be disposed of.

Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Stachetastic on March 09, 2016, 06:03:40 AM
Wow, lots of helpful insight! It's a bit heartening to see this isn't such a black and white issue. A few more points:

~My son will be four next week, so he is forward facing. He will remain in a 5 pt harness as long as I can possibly squeeze him in. Maybe when he gets his driver's license, I'll let him make an educated decision on this.

~ By "upgrade," I would be shooting for something in the 7k range. Cash, of course.

~ Paying off the last bit of student loans, which we have the cash to do at this time. No additional debt aside from mortgage on our home and on the rentals.

~ As previously mentioned, I drive hundreds of miles per week for my job. That I'm paid to do. Driving less is not an option for me, aside from small trips to the playground, etc. My neighborhood is surrounded by 50mph county roads with little to no berm, but I am in the process of lobbying my township to consider sidewalks/bike paths down the road to the local Y, grocery, etc. That would be a game changer for errands.

Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Daleth on March 09, 2016, 08:53:30 AM
Now that we've established that, here is my current fleet of commuters:
2004 Corolla with 240k miles
2005 Matrix with 165k miles

As a fellow parent who's also very interested in safety (we've never bought a car without me first looking intensively at the safety data of the ones we were considering, and we've always chosen the one with the best safety data), here's my advice. Two things:

(1) Get a car that has dynamic stability control, a.k.a. electronic stability control. In other words, if your cars don't have it, trade them in for one that does (or if you really need two cars, two that do). DSC/ESC became mandatory on all cars sold in the US as of 2012, but it was available on Subaru Outbacks and possibly other Subarus at least as early as 2007, at least one Toyota SUV around 2005, and years before that (late 1990s) on, I believe, some Mercedes and BMW models. In other words you can find affordable used cars with this feature. Here's why you want electronic stability control:

"The IIHS study concluded that ESC reduces the likelihood of all fatal crashes by 43%, fatal single-vehicle crashes by 56%, and fatal single-vehicle rollovers by 77–80%."
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_stability_control (look at the "Effectiveness" section).

Not to mince words, but HOLY SHIT, that is a HUGE HUGE safety increase. The reason it became mandatory in 2012 was because that level of safety increase was expected to decrease car-crash deaths by THOUSANDS of people per year. And in the US about 30,000 people a year die in car crashes, so we're talking a very significant decrease. One estimate I saw was that once ESC reaches a certain level of market penetration--i.e., it's not on all cars that are on the roads, but it is on a majority of them--we would be seeing about 10,000 fewer deaths a year!

And that's just the deaths--a lot MORE people are severely injured, sometimes permanently disabled, by car accidents. And a safety increase that reduces the death risk by reducing the number of accidents that happen in the first place is also going to significantly reduce such injuries.

And (2), get the best car seat you can: best safety and best fit for your kid. It can be hard to find data distinguishing one car seat from another, and all new car seats sold in the US meet the minimum standards. I spent many many hours researching and the ones that had the best stats were the Diono Radian and Clek Fllo (also Clek Foonf but that seat is huge, too big for our car). There was also an amazing Britax, I think--the Advocate, maybe it was called?--but right when we were buying them, they had a recall and weren't available anymore.

Our kids are on the tall and skinny side; different seats with similar safety stats may work better for you if your kid is built differently--our options were narrowed by my desire to keep them rear-facing as long as humanly possible (I had to look at CDC stats on percentiles of height/weight to guesstimate how big they would be at X age--my kids will probably reach the height limit for many seats long before they reach the weight limit--and then look at seats that were on the taller side to ensure that my kids would probably still fit in them rear-facing at, say, age 4). We also wanted to leave open the possibility of having a third child without needing a new car, so there were some wider seats I didn't look at because they wouldn't fit three across. I mention all this just to clarify that the universe of car seats I was comparing for their relative safety wasn't the entire universe of all car seats, but just the ones that seemed best for tall kids and possibly fitting three across our back seat.

Of those two suggestions, #1 is by far the most important because something that reduces your risk of even having an accident in the first place by such a significant margin is going to do a lot more for your entire family's safety than something that protects your child in a crash.

Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: MrsDinero on March 09, 2016, 09:01:02 AM
Learn how to drive, drive less and drive safely. Problems solved and no need for a new car.

+1

-Reduce your speed
-Keep a safe distance from the car in front of you
-Don't drive distracted (checking your phone, email, texting, etc).  I would even go so far as to include talking on the phone using a hands free device
-Don't road rage

A car with extra safety features is always nice, but they won't protect you or your family if you drive like an idiot.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jack on March 09, 2016, 09:18:00 AM
You can investigate crash death rates for vehicles you're considering.
http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/driver-death-rates

The fatality rate in new vehicles fell by 1/3 from 2008-2011.
"The chances of dying in a crash in a late-model vehicle have fallen by more than a third in three years, the latest IIHS calculations of driver death rates show."
http://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr/statusreport/article/50/1/1

Yes, down from 0.0048% to 0.0028%. Does it still sound like a lot?

"The IIHS study concluded that ESC reduces the likelihood of all fatal crashes by 43%, fatal single-vehicle crashes by 56%, and fatal single-vehicle rollovers by 77–80%."
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_stability_control (look at the "Effectiveness" section).

Not to mince words, but HOLY SHIT, that is a HUGE HUGE safety increase. The reason it became mandatory in 2012 was because that level of safety increase was expected to decrease car-crash deaths by THOUSANDS of people per year. And in the US about 30,000 people a year die in car crashes, so we're talking a very significant decrease. One estimate I saw was that once ESC reaches a certain level of market penetration--i.e., it's not on all cars that are on the roads, but it is on a majority of them--we would be seeing about 10,000 fewer deaths a year!

On the contrary, "thousands" of deaths per year, in a country of hundreds of millions of people, is tiny.

Learn how to drive, drive less and drive safely. Problems solved and no need for a new car.

ABS = pumping breaks
Traction Electronic Stability Control = slow down when it's pouring or snowing and learn how to counteract your car's motion

If you don't know how to do the above, I suggest you go take a driving class. A skilled driver who drives defensively beats any safety technology you can cram into a car.

As someone who (legally and safely) races his non-ABS-equipped car on a fairly regular basis, I'm well aware that I'm not as good as a computer would be at keeping those brakes on the threshold of locking up. I would expect the average driver to be worse at it than I am. Between that and the fact that panic stops can be caused by circumstances beyond the driver's control, I think ABS is generally worthwhile (even though I prefer not to have it myself).

Electronic stability control I'm far less certain about: in almost any situation where it would kick in, a driver who is paying attention should have already realized they're driving too fast for conditions.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: MudDuck on March 09, 2016, 09:18:42 AM
I just want to add a little point to consider when reading statistics about safety & crashes: death is not the only possible negative outcome.

Fatality rates are definitely worth considering, but it's not at all unusual to suffer serious injuries from a car accident in which no one dies. Traumatic brain injury, many different kinds of spinal cord injury, internal injuries (liver lacerations, perforated anythings, collapsed lungs) and broken bones are all extremely common side effects. Some are no big deal and the person gets a little splint and some stitches. Some are serious, but the person ultimately recovers. Some are life altering, and not in a good way. Some, especially TBI, is considered by many folks to be *worse* than death.

That said, I strongly agree with the general ideas here: drive less, drive carefully, keep everyone properly restrained (+1 million on the extended rear-facing, 5-point harnesses, etc.), and try to keep in perspective just how incredibly safe we all are each day as relatively wealthy people in 2016.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jeremy E. on March 09, 2016, 09:23:45 AM
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/12/08/lessons-learned-from-having-my-bike-stolen/

This article is more about security but I like to think about it in terms of safety too. You can buy tons of safety equipment, but you're really just wasting your time and money for something with a small risk.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: dess1313 on March 09, 2016, 09:54:20 AM
have you checked out the crash ratings at the IIHS for your current vehicle? 

each year and each model and each make has a drastic difference in what happens during a head on, overlap and side impact scenario.  i would look that your car has a half decent rating, or any future car have decent ratings. 

but the comments about winter tires are spot on.  i have them and they've saved my ass a few times from different accidents.  the stopping power and control is tremendously better than just all seasons.  its also saved me from having accidents on my driving record which has saved me $ in insurance premiums as well as kept my car from being written off.

Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Lulee on March 09, 2016, 10:07:13 AM
Based on the fact that you do home visits as your job, having a backup camera, even as an after-market add-on, protecting you and kids and pets wherever you are, would be prudent.  Especially in a newer car because the morons who design them have been making them harder and harder to see out of for years.

Given everything you have told us, I’d agree you’d be happier to upgrade your car to newer used car with the features like ABS brakes and add the backup camera.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Lulee on March 09, 2016, 10:21:02 AM
In the world, sometimes freaky coincidences happen.  As I posted my response, there was a bang outside.  Not completely sure at this point, but it appears that a motorcycle and pickup had a near miss, causing the biker to crash onto or dump his ride onto the curbed sidewalk.  He’s not moving but help is here.  Just a not at all subtle reminder from the Universe about our fragility.  Be safe everyone!
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Paul der Krake on March 09, 2016, 10:36:20 AM
Like others have said, this would be a different proposition if your fleet was was from the 80s with no head rests.

Making a case for replacing two mid-2000s japanese cars is a different story.

The cars were safe enough for people to buy them and drive their kids around ten years ago. What's changed?
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Kroaler on March 09, 2016, 11:04:02 AM
I'll chime in.   Do you regularly commute at or above 70mph?

If yes then  *I*  could see splurging into new advances in safety technology.    Abs and stability control are amazing.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: BDWW on March 09, 2016, 11:17:48 AM
I wouldn't worry about the safety features, but I might about the cat.

A bad catalytic converter will restrict exhaust flow and reduce performance and fuel-mileage. Do you track your mileage?
There's likely where the computer will report a problem, but your mileage won't suffer. However, it will almost certainly get worse over time and affect it.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Stachetastic on March 09, 2016, 11:28:32 AM
I'll chime in.   Do you regularly commute at or above 70mph?

If yes then  *I*  could see splurging into new advances in safety technology.    Abs and stability control are amazing.

Good question. I do drive right around 70mph for several hours at a time approximately one or two days per week. The rest of my driving is a mix of back roads and larger cities, so I see it all. My region is the entire north west quadrant of my state. With the highways, obviously I worry about semis and large freight. With the back roads, I worry about being T boned by someone running a stop sign. I am as vigilant as possible--extended stops to double check intersections, maintaining extra distance on the highways, not using electronic devices, etc. I consider myself a safe driver--no accidents since I was 16 years old.


In the world, sometimes freaky coincidences happen.  As I posted my response, there was a bang outside.  Not completely sure at this point, but it appears that a motorcycle and pickup had a near miss, causing the biker to crash onto or dump his ride onto the curbed sidewalk.  He’s not moving but help is here.  Just a not at all subtle reminder from the Universe about our fragility.  Be safe everyone!

Oh my! I hope he's ok. Scary stuff.

I just want to add a little point to consider when reading statistics about safety & crashes: death is not the only possible negative outcome.

Agreed. I have a friend whose daughter was in a terrible car accident years ago. She is still alive, but has been in a vegetative state for a decade. My friend has said many times that there are fates worse than death.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Stachetastic on March 09, 2016, 11:34:36 AM
have you checked out the crash ratings at the IIHS for your current vehicle? 

each year and each model and each make has a drastic difference in what happens during a head on, overlap and side impact scenario.  i would look that your car has a half decent rating, or any future car have decent ratings. 

but the comments about winter tires are spot on.  i have them and they've saved my ass a few times from different accidents.  the stopping power and control is tremendously better than just all seasons.  its also saved me from having accidents on my driving record which has saved me $ in insurance premiums as well as kept my car from being written off.

My corolla got a "Good" rating for Moderate Overlap Front, a "Poor" rating for side impact, and "Acceptable" for Head Restraints and Seats. Obviously the Poor rating concerns me.

Re: snow tires--I see them mentioned here all the time, but as a lifelong Ohioan, I've never known anyone with them. They just don't seem to be a "thing" around my neck of the woods. I'm fortunate that if the weather is too bad, I am able to stay in my office or use vacation time and stay home.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: dogboyslim on March 09, 2016, 11:48:47 AM
I work with actuaries.  The advice goes like this:

1. Wear your seatbelt
2. Go slow enough that you have a margin of error so you can react to changes (may be above or below the speed limit depending on conditions)
3. If something looks fishy, slow down first.  If its fine, you can speed back up.
4. Drive during daylight hours and not in bad weather
.
.
.
756. Buy a car with crash avoidance technology.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Marvel2017 on March 09, 2016, 12:26:01 PM
I daily drive a 1970 chevy pickup. Lap belts, no air bags. I drive defensively as hell. I hope all the idiots on their cell phone don't kill me though.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jack on March 09, 2016, 12:37:46 PM
In the world, sometimes freaky coincidences happen.  As I posted my response, there was a bang outside.  Not completely sure at this point, but it appears that a motorcycle and pickup had a near miss, causing the biker to crash onto or dump his ride onto the curbed sidewalk.  He’s not moving but help is here.  Just a not at all subtle reminder from the Universe about our fragility.  Be safe everyone!

Well, if the vehicle you're upgrading from is a donorcycle, then that's certainly a situation where more safety is worth it!

Going from a relatively-modern car to a very-modern one, on the other hand, is what's beyond the point of diminishing returns.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Stachetastic on March 09, 2016, 12:44:15 PM
The cars were safe enough for people to buy them and drive their kids around ten years ago. What's changed?

When I was a child, cars were "safe enough" for people to buy them and drive their kids around without air bags, shoulder belts, or car seats that actually attached to anything. Booster seats were few and far between. My mom mastered the "soccer mom arm" reflex, as we sat in the front seat as soon as we were old enough to walk. Does that mean I should choose to shuttle my children around in the same manner?

Obviously car safety from the early 80's and 2004 are not the same. But my point remains: we have the technology to keep ourselves and our children safer in the event of an accident. When is spending a few thousand $$ worth it, and when is it not? I'm glad to see this much discussion in this thread, as it's obviously not so black and white.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Daleth on March 09, 2016, 01:18:50 PM
The cars were safe enough for people to buy them and drive their kids around ten years ago. What's changed?

When I was a child, cars were "safe enough" for people to buy them and drive their kids around without air bags, shoulder belts, or car seats that actually attached to anything. Booster seats were few and far between. My mom mastered the "soccer mom arm" reflex, as we sat in the front seat as soon as we were old enough to walk. Does that mean I should choose to shuttle my children around in the same manner?

Obviously car safety from the early 80's and 2004 are not the same. But my point remains: we have the technology to keep ourselves and our children safer in the event of an accident. When is spending a few thousand $$ worth it, and when is it not? I'm glad to see this much discussion in this thread, as it's obviously not so black and white.

I'm glad too. And knowing that you're in Ohio makes stability control seem even more important to me, since you're in a part of the country that regularly experiences exactly the kind of weather that stability control was designed to deal with: freezing rain, snow, black ice, heavy rain, etc. I mean, if you were in Texas it wouldn't seem so important. Although even there, like you I would worry about the "poor" rating on side impact, because weather has nothing to do with whether some jackass is going to run a light and t-bone you.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that car crashes are the single most common way for perfectly healthy Americans to get killed, severely injured, or permanently disabled. And the more you drive, the higher your risk, obviously.

If you want a car that's similar to your Corolla but has "good" ratings (no average, no poor) on ALL types of crash tests (see link below), and has stability control, you could get a 2008 or 2009 Subaru Impreza sedan. The 2008's had stability control as an option; it became standard as of 2009. The Kelley Blue Book price for an 2008 Impreza with stability control, at a dealer (which obviously is higher than what you'd pay to a private individual), is right around $8000--and that's without counting the trade-in value of your Corolla; factor in that trade-in and you're probably looking at around half that cost, for a car you can drive for the next decade.

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/subaru/impreza-4-door-sedan/2008
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: mm1970 on March 09, 2016, 01:20:45 PM
Ok, so I've already read the MMM article about safety being an expensive illusion. I get it. My world would be much safer if I stayed out of my car completely. But (my) life doesn't work like that. While I have a <2mile commute, I drive my car hundreds of miles per week for my job. So biking is out of the questions for me. Also, I must take my son to child care daily, which is on a 55mph county road with a very narrow berm. In the dark several months of the year. 

Now that we've established that, here is my current fleet of commuters:
2004 Corolla with 240k miles
2005 Matrix with 165k miles

These cars are both in excellent running order. The Corolla needs a new cat converter, but I'm ignoring it since we live in a state with no emissions testing. I'm the original owner of the Corolla and is has been a pleasure to drive, every single mile. I have a sentimental attachment to this car. I do home visits for my job, so it's very nice to have a car I don't mind taking down back alleys, traversing huge pot holes, narrow streets, making u turns, etc. Just this week, it got caked in mud from driving back country roads that were not paved. But now I've got kiddos and safety is on my mind. I'd really like to have something with side air bags, and a back up camera would be a dream. (I realize these can be added after market). My husband recently accepted a job very close to home, so he can be biking very soon, once he is done with training. What say you, MMM? Should we ditch one of the cars and get something with some safety features? Should we ditch them both in favor of one super-safe-mobile? Am I being paranoid?
Yes you are being paranoid.

(my kids are almost-10 and 3.5, and my car is an '06 Matrix.  I used to drive an 01 Prizm/ Corolla, and still would be if it hadn't been totaled.  Our other car is an 09 Civic.  The Matrix is the main car.)
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Paul der Krake on March 09, 2016, 02:16:57 PM
The cars were safe enough for people to buy them and drive their kids around ten years ago. What's changed?

When I was a child, cars were "safe enough" for people to buy them and drive their kids around without air bags, shoulder belts, or car seats that actually attached to anything. Booster seats were few and far between. My mom mastered the "soccer mom arm" reflex, as we sat in the front seat as soon as we were old enough to walk. Does that mean I should choose to shuttle my children around in the same manner?

Obviously car safety from the early 80's and 2004 are not the same. But my point remains: we have the technology to keep ourselves and our children safer in the event of an accident. When is spending a few thousand $$ worth it, and when is it not? I'm glad to see this much discussion in this thread, as it's obviously not so black and white.
Yes, there's clearly a tradeoff. IMHO, car safety from 2004 is good enough. That doesn't mean I think we should discontinue safety research.

Improvements aren't linear in the sense that you always get x% safer with each passing year. Instead, we got huge boosts of safety at every major improvement. The best times to make the jump in the last 100 years were probably right after the arrival of the seatbelt, then the airbag, etc.

Personally, I will pick the thousands of dollars over a marginal safety improvement any day of the week, while striving to be the best driver I can be.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jeremy E. on March 09, 2016, 02:32:53 PM
I think if you save a few thousand dollars from driving older cars, you will save enough money to be able to drive less, either by quitting your job, using FU money to say I'm going to work from home or not work here, or any other number of possibilities.


The cars were safe enough for people to buy them and drive their kids around ten years ago. What's changed?

When I was a child, cars were "safe enough" for people to buy them and drive their kids around without air bags, shoulder belts, or car seats that actually attached to anything. Booster seats were few and far between. My mom mastered the "soccer mom arm" reflex, as we sat in the front seat as soon as we were old enough to walk. Does that mean I should choose to shuttle my children around in the same manner?

Obviously car safety from the early 80's and 2004 are not the same. But my point remains: we have the technology to keep ourselves and our children safer in the event of an accident. When is spending a few thousand $$ worth it, and when is it not? I'm glad to see this much discussion in this thread, as it's obviously not so black and white.

I'm glad too. And knowing that you're in Ohio makes stability control seem even more important to me, since you're in a part of the country that regularly experiences exactly the kind of weather that stability control was designed to deal with: freezing rain, snow, black ice, heavy rain, etc. I mean, if you were in Texas it wouldn't seem so important. Although even there, like you I would worry about the "poor" rating on side impact, because weather has nothing to do with whether some jackass is going to run a light and t-bone you.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that car crashes are the single most common way for perfectly healthy Americans to get killed, severely injured, or permanently disabled. And the more you drive, the higher your risk, obviously.

If you want a car that's similar to your Corolla but has "good" ratings (no average, no poor) on ALL types of crash tests (see link below), and has stability control, you could get a 2008 or 2009 Subaru Impreza sedan. The 2008's had stability control as an option; it became standard as of 2009. The Kelley Blue Book price for an 2008 Impreza with stability control, at a dealer (which obviously is higher than what you'd pay to a private individual), is right around $8000--and that's without counting the trade-in value of your Corolla; factor in that trade-in and you're probably looking at around half that cost, for a car you can drive for the next decade.

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/subaru/impreza-4-door-sedan/2008
His Corolla gets about 10mpg better than an 08 or 09 Impreza.

Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: dess1313 on March 10, 2016, 09:32:28 PM
have you checked out the crash ratings at the IIHS for your current vehicle? 

each year and each model and each make has a drastic difference in what happens during a head on, overlap and side impact scenario.  i would look that your car has a half decent rating, or any future car have decent ratings. 

but the comments about winter tires are spot on.  i have them and they've saved my ass a few times from different accidents.  the stopping power and control is tremendously better than just all seasons.  its also saved me from having accidents on my driving record which has saved me $ in insurance premiums as well as kept my car from being written off.

My corolla got a "Good" rating for Moderate Overlap Front, a "Poor" rating for side impact, and "Acceptable" for Head Restraints and Seats. Obviously the Poor rating concerns me.

Re: snow tires--I see them mentioned here all the time, but as a lifelong Ohioan, I've never known anyone with them. They just don't seem to be a "thing" around my neck of the woods. I'm fortunate that if the weather is too bad, I am able to stay in my office or use vacation time and stay home.


here we have nasty winters 6+ months a year.  winter tires are essential in my mind now that i have them, i won't go without.  sounds like your place is much more mild.  some provinces mandate winter tires otherwise your insurance is void

most accidents i see are head on, or side/Tboned.  you would be surprised on how poor some other cars show despite the big names.  its good that your car doesn't have poor ratings all around but the side rating is a bit concerning.  if you only have one kid place em in the middle of the back seat if possible. 

toyotas are pretty decent vehicles but technology in the last 5-10 years has really jumped. i just recently sold my 98 corolla myself and they generally are a pretty solid car.  it treated me well, but i jumped to a subaru outback for my next vehicle.  subaru really got my attention when i was looking around for what to drive next.  the some of the best safety ratings when i was comparing models.  look up their eyesight system.

like most mention, safe driving, proper car kid seats, don't use your cellphone, be careful entering intersections after red lights, don't drive drunk and you'll avoid most of the mishaps i see enter my emerg room.  there is no way to 100% prevent accidents (unless you never leave your house ever again) but being careful helps.  not all accidents are driver at fault, but a lot i see in trauma are.

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/u-s-dot-and-iihs-announce-historic-commitment-from-10-automakers-to-include-automatic-emergency-braking-on-all-new-vehicles (http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/u-s-dot-and-iihs-announce-historic-commitment-from-10-automakers-to-include-automatic-emergency-braking-on-all-new-vehicles)

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/crashes-avoided-front-crash-prevention-slashes-police-reported-rear-end-crashes (http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/crashes-avoided-front-crash-prevention-slashes-police-reported-rear-end-crashes)

Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Stachetastic on March 11, 2016, 05:52:11 AM

Improvements aren't linear in the sense that you always get x% safer with each passing year. Instead, we got huge boosts of safety at every major improvement. The best times to make the jump in the last 100 years were probably right after the arrival of the seatbelt, then the airbag, etc.

Personally, I will pick the thousands of dollars over a marginal safety improvement any day of the week, while striving to be the best driver I can be.

What about the arrival of side airbags? That is what my cars are lacking that mostly concerns me. Where does one draw the line between "front air bags are a MUST HAVE, but side air bags? meh."
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: soupcxan on March 11, 2016, 10:11:45 AM
~35,000 people die every year in the US in auto accidents and double that are seriously injured. Having known people who were irreparably injured in auto accidents (not even their fault) while driving older cars, is it worth a couple thousand bucks to get more safety features? For my family, hell yes.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Daleth on March 11, 2016, 01:51:14 PM
~35,000 people die every year in the US in auto accidents and double that are seriously injured. Having known people who were irreparably injured in auto accidents (not even their fault) while driving older cars, is it worth a couple thousand bucks to get more safety features? For my family, hell yes.

I'm with you on that.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: ooeei on March 11, 2016, 02:17:53 PM
~35,000 people die every year in the US in auto accidents and double that are seriously injured. Having known people who were irreparably injured in auto accidents (not even their fault) while driving older cars, is it worth a couple thousand bucks to get more safety features? For my family, hell yes.

35,000 sure does sound like a lot!  Fortunately, there are 319,000,000 people in the US, so that 35,000 is actually around 1/10,000, or .010% of people.  Sounds a lot less scary when you put it like that! 

Note all of the equally scary much scarier things below.  Is there any way you could better deploy your resources than buying a new car to cut that .010% chance to .008%?  I suspect there is!  Heck, a preventable cause of heart disease (roughly 20x more likely to kill you than a car crash) is stress, the leading cause of which is MONEY.

Causes of death in the US:
•Heart disease: 611,105
•Cancer: 584,881
•Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 149,205
•Accidents (unintentional injuries): 130,557
•Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,978
•Alzheimer's disease: 84,767
•Diabetes: 75,578
•Influenza and Pneumonia: 56,979
•Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 47,112
•Intentional self-harm (suicide): 41,149



What about the arrival of side airbags? That is what my cars are lacking that mostly concerns me. Where does one draw the line between "front air bags are a MUST HAVE, but side air bags? meh."

A quick search shows ~37% fatality decrease in a driver's side impact scenario with the full setup of side airbags.  I searched "side airbag effectiveness" in google.  While this sounds huge, http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/passenger-vehicles shows ~30% of driving fatalities happen in side crashes.  So that .010% fatality rate earlier will be reduced by 37% in the 30% of those that are side crashes (let's round up to 35%, assuming some people were saved by side airbags in that data).  That means by getting side airbags your risk falls from .010% to .0087%, or a 12% reduction in your already extremely small chance of dying in a car crash.  Even if you consider injuries, this doesn't seem worth it to me.  Use the money you'd spend on side airbag upgrades to change your work environment sooner so you aren't driving and sitting so much, and can exercise more. 
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: tobitonic on March 11, 2016, 03:04:56 PM

Improvements aren't linear in the sense that you always get x% safer with each passing year. Instead, we got huge boosts of safety at every major improvement. The best times to make the jump in the last 100 years were probably right after the arrival of the seatbelt, then the airbag, etc.

Personally, I will pick the thousands of dollars over a marginal safety improvement any day of the week, while striving to be the best driver I can be.

What about the arrival of side airbags? That is what my cars are lacking that mostly concerns me. Where does one draw the line between "front air bags are a MUST HAVE, but side air bags? meh."

I mean this in the kindest way possible, but...you've already received a lot of great advice about the value of safety features like side airbags from many folks; it sounds like you realize that these features are valuable, but you don't seem to want to spend money on them. But you keep arguing with people who say they aren't worth it, while refusing to take the advice of folks who say they are. I don't think you're going to get any new information from this thread, even if goes for another 100 posts.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Paul der Krake on March 11, 2016, 03:29:29 PM
To add to ooeei's math, it seems like that side air bags are touted a lot for their effectiveness in rollover situations, mostly for SUVs.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I get the appeal of improved safety, I really do. I want all these improvements to trickle down to me eventually, just like every $50 cell phone now comes with a wifi chip and a GPS. It's awesome that the government now mandates them, because it's basically no cost to the car manufacturers, it probably costs less than $30 to equip a vehicle with airbags all over when done on the assembly line. $30 for a 12% increased chance of not dying. Hell yeah government, go for it! But using that as an excuse to replace perfectly reasonable vehicles with plenty of life left in them, no.

Heck, the overall odds of dying in a car are so low that they could double or triple overnight, I would still drive.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: lbmustache on March 11, 2016, 07:55:57 PM
To add to ooeei's math, it seems like that side air bags are touted a lot for their effectiveness in rollover situations, mostly for SUVs.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I get the appeal of improved safety, I really do. I want all these improvements to trickle down to me eventually, just like every $50 cell phone now comes with a wifi chip and a GPS. It's awesome that the government now mandates them, because it's basically no cost to the car manufacturers, it probably costs less than $30 to equip a vehicle with airbags all over when done on the assembly line. $30 for a 12% increased chance of not dying. Hell yeah government, go for it! But using that as an excuse to replace perfectly reasonable vehicles with plenty of life left in them, no.

Heck, the overall odds of dying in a car are so low that they could double or triple overnight, I would still drive.

Airbags are expensive and deployment is enough to total a car... the average airbag itself is around $400-$1000 and the installation cost with all of the sensors etc + labor is like 3x the cost. $30 is probably what an original (OEM) sun visor costs.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jack on March 11, 2016, 08:16:21 PM
To add to ooeei's math, it seems like that side air bags are touted a lot for their effectiveness in rollover situations, mostly for SUVs.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I get the appeal of improved safety, I really do. I want all these improvements to trickle down to me eventually, just like every $50 cell phone now comes with a wifi chip and a GPS. It's awesome that the government now mandates them, because it's basically no cost to the car manufacturers, it probably costs less than $30 to equip a vehicle with airbags all over when done on the assembly line. $30 for a 12% increased chance of not dying. Hell yeah government, go for it! But using that as an excuse to replace perfectly reasonable vehicles with plenty of life left in them, no.

Heck, the overall odds of dying in a car are so low that they could double or triple overnight, I would still drive.

Airbags are expensive and deployment is enough to total a car... the average airbag itself is around $400-$1000 and the installation cost with all of the sensors etc + labor is like 3x the cost. $30 is probably what an original (OEM) sun visor costs.

... and they don't give you a "12% increased chance of not dying," either. To claim so takes a statement of conditional probability and then eliminates the condition, which is mathematically incorrect. It's more like they make the outcome of a wreck 12% better given that said wreck has already occurred, but the wreck itself is an unlikely event.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Paul der Krake on March 12, 2016, 04:32:57 AM
To add to ooeei's math, it seems like that side air bags are touted a lot for their effectiveness in rollover situations, mostly for SUVs.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I get the appeal of improved safety, I really do. I want all these improvements to trickle down to me eventually, just like every $50 cell phone now comes with a wifi chip and a GPS. It's awesome that the government now mandates them, because it's basically no cost to the car manufacturers, it probably costs less than $30 to equip a vehicle with airbags all over when done on the assembly line. $30 for a 12% increased chance of not dying. Hell yeah government, go for it! But using that as an excuse to replace perfectly reasonable vehicles with plenty of life left in them, no.

Heck, the overall odds of dying in a car are so low that they could double or triple overnight, I would still drive.

Airbags are expensive and deployment is enough to total a car... the average airbag itself is around $400-$1000 and the installation cost with all of the sensors etc + labor is like 3x the cost. $30 is probably what an original (OEM) sun visor costs.
Hm, no. If you buy an airbag and have it installed now, it is expensive. Toyota does not pay $400 per airbag to install them in a $18,000 corolla at the time of manufacturing. They don't pay $30 for a sun visor either.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: MickeyMoustache on March 12, 2016, 06:31:30 AM
Learn how to drive, drive less and drive safely. Problems solved and no need for a new car.

ABS = pumping breaks
Traction Control = slow down when it's pouring or snowing and learn how to counteract your car's motion

If you don't know how to do the above, I suggest you go take a driving class. A skilled driver who drives defensively beats any safety technology you can cram into a car.

Wow, this is terrible advice.  Seriously, you could get someone killed with this advice.  Not all drivers are created equal and everyone has a different skill cap.  That said, your points are just wrong anyway and are ignorant of the technology you're criticizing.

ABS =/= pumping brakes by a long shot.  ABS works by repeatedly switching from static to kinetic friction at a speed that is IMPOSSIBLE for a human to replicate.  If you've ever used ABS, you'll feel the vibratory nature of the process.  Each vibration is essentially the car tire going from static friction (i.e. car tire is in contact with the pavement, no slippage, and requires MORE energy to overcome) to kinetic friction (i.e. car tire is now sliding across the driving surface, which requires significantly LESS energy to maintain this).  ABS switches back to static friction AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE to maximize your stopping power.  A HUMAN CANNOT REPLICATE THIS unless you've got a fucking jack hammer strapped to your foot against the brake pedal.

Traction control works in a similar way to ABS and will apply to specific wheels to maximize traction across all wheels under the current road conditions.  Again, this is not something that can be replicated by a human, we do not have control of individual wheels when driving.

Check this out for more information: http://brainonboard.ca/safety_features/active_safety_features_traction_control.php

And holy fuck that last statement is dangerous misinformation.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: BlueMR2 on March 12, 2016, 06:51:27 AM
A car with extra safety features is always nice, but they won't protect you or your family if you drive like an idiot.

Very true, but everyone's fear is getting smoked by someone else.  People have a hard time seeing the danger they bring into their own lives.

Upsides to safety equipment have been covered pretty well already, but the downsides don't seem to be fully covered quite yet.  Here's some more thoughts from the negative side:
- It's bad for the environment as the vehicle is made heavier and contains more toxic chemicals (and to go all morbid, honestly the environment would be better off if more of us were killed in crashes...)
- It's expensive to both buy AND properly maintain (you DO have your airbags repacked every 10 years like the owner's manual says, right?) compared to a vehicle without it (however, if you do drive like a nut and it avoids medical expenses it may save you money)
- It's unreliable.  ABS sensors are notorious for flaking out as they're exposed to road debris (especially up North).  The number of people I know with traction control systems that have the cars in and out of the shop for it failing is absolutely ridiculous.

Personally, safety doesn't even make my list at all.  Just don't care.  I drive for the experience of driving, which all the safety gear detracts from.  I don't care about the destination (or if I make it there).
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Daleth on March 12, 2016, 07:22:16 AM
Personally, safety doesn't even make my list at all.  Just don't care.  I drive for the experience of driving, which all the safety gear detracts from.  I don't care about the destination (or if I make it there).

I take it you don't have kids?
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: tobitonic on March 12, 2016, 07:54:40 AM
- It's expensive to both buy AND properly maintain (you DO have your airbags repacked every 10 years like the owner's manual says, right?) compared to a vehicle without it (however, if you do drive like a nut and it avoids medical expenses it may save you money)

This is false. Airbags are designed to last the life of a vehicle.

http://www.edmunds.com/car-safety/do-car-airbags-expire.html
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: FIRE47 on March 12, 2016, 08:49:13 AM
Learn how to drive, drive less and drive safely. Problems solved and no need for a new car.

ABS = pumping breaks
Traction Control = slow down when it's pouring or snowing and learn how to counteract your car's motion

If you don't know how to do the above, I suggest you go take a driving class. A skilled driver who drives defensively beats any safety technology you can cram into a car.

This is the kind of crap that turns me off about this forum sometimes.

Completely bogus nonsense
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: The Happy Philosopher on March 12, 2016, 09:37:24 AM
This topic generates a lot of passionate debate for sure, so I will tell you how I approach this:

1. Using statistics is a starting point, but realize that no one is average. No one has an average risk. If you are driving in the city at 35 miles per hour vs. 65 on a two lane country road at night these two activities have a very different risk profile. If you are over 50 your chance of a cervical spine fracture is much higher, so your expected mortality and morbidity from a high speed crash are higher. There are regional differences. There are differences depending what time you drive.

2. Safety features should be thought of as insurance. The purpose of insurance is hedging against catastrophic but unlikely events. A serious auto accident is financially devastating to most people. You are hedging against your health care costs and ability to earn money and work in the future.

3. ABS, stability control and side air bags are an absolute must for me. I wouldn't drive a car without them.

4. Structural integrity of a car will deteriorate over time. A 15 year old care is not as sound as it is the day it came off the lot.

5. +1 for rear facing car seats. Always keep kids in the back seat, it is a safer place to be in an accident. Use a booster seat until the kid is tall enough to not need one (mainly to ensure good position of the seat belt).

6. Comparing auto fatalities to something like heart disease or cancer borders on irrelevant. Young people disproportionately die and are disabled from accidents, thus destroying many more life years. A heart attack at 65 has a very different effect than a fatal car crash at 24. The 24 year old dead or disabled mom simply has more negative repercussions. The things that kill young people are poisoning, accidents (auto) and suicide. Hedge appropriately.

I would spend 7k to upgrade on vehicle with upgraded safety features and use it for all risky driving. Depreciation will be minimal at this point and unless you are on the extreme low end of the income scale this will matter very little in the grand scheme of FI.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: FIRE47 on March 12, 2016, 09:44:49 AM
This topic generates a lot of passionate debate for sure, so I will tell you how I approach this:

1. Using statistics is a starting point, but realize that no one is average. No one has an average risk. If you are driving in the city at 35 miles per hour vs. 65 on a two lane country road at night these two activities have a very different risk profile. If you are over 50 your chance of a cervical spine fracture is much higher, so your expected mortality and morbidity from a high speed crash are higher. There are regional differences. There are differences depending what time you drive.

2. Safety features should be thought of as insurance. The purpose of insurance is hedging against catastrophic but unlikely events. A serious auto accident is financially devastating to most people. You are hedging against your health care costs and ability to earn money and work in the future.

3. ABS, stability control and side air bags are an absolute must for me. I wouldn't drive a car without them.

4. Structural integrity of a car will deteriorate over time. A 15 year old care is not as sound as it is the day it came off the lot.

5. +1 for rear facing car seats. Always keep kids in the back seat, it is a safer place to be in an accident. Use a booster seat until the kid is tall enough to not need one (mainly to ensure good position of the seat belt).

6. Comparing auto fatalities to something like heart disease or cancer borders on irrelevant. Young people disproportionately die and are disabled from accidents, thus destroying many more life years. A heart attack at 65 has a very different effect than a fatal car crash at 24. The 24 year old dead or disabled mom simply has more negative repercussions. The things that kill young people are poisoning, accidents (auto) and suicide. Hedge appropriately.

I would spend 7k to upgrade on vehicle with upgraded safety features and use it for all risky driving. Depreciation will be minimal at this point and unless you are on the extreme low end of the income scale this will matter very little in the grand scheme of FI.

Nailed it.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: randymarsh on March 12, 2016, 12:20:33 PM
Learn how to drive, drive less and drive safely. Problems solved and no need for a new car.

ABS = pumping breaks
Traction Control = slow down when it's pouring or snowing and learn how to counteract your car's motion

If you don't know how to do the above, I suggest you go take a driving class. A skilled driver who drives defensively beats any safety technology you can cram into a car.

Completely bogus nonsense

Agreed. You cannot equate the computer controlled functionality of ABS and ESC with humans pressing a pedal. 

OP, if you want to sell one car, using the proceeds and some additional cash if necessary to buy a safer car I say go for it.

You don't even have to go that much newer/expensive. All Toyota models 2010 and newer have ESC & side airbags for example. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/safety-features
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: soupcxan on March 12, 2016, 12:37:29 PM
~35,000 people die every year in the US in auto accidents and double that are seriously injured. Having known people who were irreparably injured in auto accidents (not even their fault) while driving older cars, is it worth a couple thousand bucks to get more safety features? For my family, hell yes.

35,000 sure does sound like a lot!  Fortunately, there are 319,000,000 people in the US, so that 35,000 is actually around 1/10,000, or .010% of people.  Sounds a lot less scary when you put it like that! 

Note all of the equally scary much scarier things below.  Is there any way you could better deploy your resources than buying a new car to cut that .010% chance to .008%?  I suspect there is!  Heck, a preventable cause of heart disease (roughly 20x more likely to kill you than a car crash) is stress, the leading cause of which is MONEY.

Causes of death in the US:
•Heart disease: 611,105
•Cancer: 584,881
•Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 149,205
•Accidents (unintentional injuries): 130,557
•Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,978
•Alzheimer's disease: 84,767
•Diabetes: 75,578
•Influenza and Pneumonia: 56,979
•Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 47,112
•Intentional self-harm (suicide): 41,149



What about the arrival of side airbags? That is what my cars are lacking that mostly concerns me. Where does one draw the line between "front air bags are a MUST HAVE, but side air bags? meh."

A quick search shows ~37% fatality decrease in a driver's side impact scenario with the full setup of side airbags.  I searched "side airbag effectiveness" in google.  While this sounds huge, http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/passenger-vehicles shows ~30% of driving fatalities happen in side crashes.  So that .010% fatality rate earlier will be reduced by 37% in the 30% of those that are side crashes (let's round up to 35%, assuming some people were saved by side airbags in that data).  That means by getting side airbags your risk falls from .010% to .0087%, or a 12% reduction in your already extremely small chance of dying in a car crash.  Even if you consider injuries, this doesn't seem worth it to me.  Use the money you'd spend on side airbag upgrades to change your work environment sooner so you aren't driving and sitting so much, and can exercise more.

You're using the risk of dying from cancer or heart attack in old age to justify not needing safety features on your family's car so you can save a couple grand? Good luck with that logic...
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: randymarsh on March 12, 2016, 01:15:19 PM
You're using the risk of dying from cancer or heart attack in old age to justify not needing safety features on your family's car so you can save a couple grand? Good luck with that logic...

That threw me for a loop as well. Those things would be relevant to this discussion, maybe, if OP was 70.

The risk of me, as a young active person, dying from heart disease or diabetes anytime soon is so low that logically I should minimize risk of the things that are most likely to kill me. One of which is surely car accidents.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: dess1313 on March 12, 2016, 10:09:54 PM
I may have a different view, but that is part of my job.  I work in trauma/ICU and i see a LOT of motor vehicle accidents.  and i mean a LOT!

Are some caused by drunk driving?  Yes
Are some caused by distracted driving?  Yes
Too much speed?  Yes
Are all the victims the drunk drivers/distracted/speeding drivers?  NO! 

Its often the distracted/drunk/speeding driver hitting someone else's car causing THAT person to be injured.  Or they hit a pedestrian crossing the road.

Should we just worry about fatality statistics?  I've seen a few of those floating around justifying older cars being 'good enough'
Have you ever been with someone who has had a traumatic brain injury?  Sure they did not die in the crash, but they will NEVER be the same person again.  They may never work, never go home, never take care of their kids.  Instead many end up being taken care at long term medical facilities.  Some can't even brush their own teeth for example.  But they did not 'die' in the accident.  There are some things out there that can be worse than death.

Even if you escape with with your faculties intact, some people will have life long chronic pain or disabilities due to their injuries.  Some will never be able to work again.  Some end up in wheel chairs for the rest of their lives. 

I drove a 98 corolla for years.  Our family bought it new.   After a very very close call on the highway, and later seeing old neighbors of mine killed in a head on collision due to a drunk/stolen vehicle being at fault i decided my safety was worth something.  After a lot of deliberation, i decided to buy a new (gasp!) subaru outback with eyesight technology since it had some of the highest safety ratings on the market in the style/type of vehicle i was looking for as well as some of the best reviews/low long term maintenace costs.  Many here would think its a stupid expensive decision.  That's your 2 cents.  I'm not forcing you to do anything.  But i plan on driving that car for the next 20 years and i will know exactly what has been done and i will take good care of it.

I find that a question like this is like how much risk are you willing to take?  Want to do 100% stocks?  sure fine that's your risk.  but it doesn't mean that its right for everyone else, or that it is wrong for other people to consider other scenarios. 
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: abhe8 on March 13, 2016, 06:12:54 AM
Um, so it will be safe for you to drive a twenty year old car in twenty years, but it's not safe to drive a ten or 12 year old car now? That makes no sense.

Also, the accidents you cite, drunk and distracted  drivers hitting others and pedestrians... How will your outback save u from those?

And u are saying your neighbor who died in a head on collision with a drunk driver would be fine today if they had been driving a new car?

I'm just not sure all of that is true.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: MrsDinero on March 13, 2016, 06:13:54 AM
A car with extra safety features is always nice, but they won't protect you or your family if you drive like an idiot.

Very true, but everyone's fear is getting smoked by someone else.  People have a hard time seeing the danger they bring into their own lives.


True. They usually think everyone else is the bad driver.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Daleth on March 13, 2016, 08:18:48 AM
This topic generates a lot of passionate debate for sure, so I will tell you how I approach this:


Nailed it.

Yep. Especially the point about how comparing car crashes, which are approximately the #1 killer and disabler of young people, to diseases that kill or disable folks in their 60s-80s is misleading and irrelevant. We're talking about something that can kill or permanently disable you when you still have 30-50 years left to live and are at an age where you likely have young children. It's a much more important risk to hedge against than things that are unlikely to affect you until you're old and your children are grown.

Um, so it will be safe for you to drive a twenty year old car in twenty years, but it's not safe to drive a ten or 12 year old car now? That makes no sense.

It makes perfect sense. The safety features that come on a 2015 or 2016 Subaru Outback are light years ahead of what came on a 2006 or 2004 car (including an Outback of that vintage). 10-12-year-old cars may not even have side airbags, and with a minuscule number of exceptions, they definitely don't have electronic stability control/traction control.

The biggest technological leaps in car safety in the last 20 years are:

- Front airbags: mandatory as of September 1998 (so, 1999 model year--but not all 1999 cars had them because many were manufactured before September 1998).

- Side airbags: still not mandatory as of 2016, but available on most cars. "In a 2006 report, the IIHS said side head airbags reduced driver deaths by 37% and ones that protected the chest and abdomen reduced deaths by 26%."
https://www.cars.com/articles/2013/08/are-front-side-airbags-required-standard-equipment/#LKRAD5os2GCjZKzQ.99

- Electronic stability control, a.k.a. dynamic stability control: mandatory as of 2012. We've already discussed in this thread how dramatically this feature reduces the death risk, and also how the way it reduces it is not by protecting you in a crash by reducing the number of crashes that happen in the first place--a HUGE advantage.

Now do you see why most new cars are much safer than most 2004-06 cars?
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jack on March 13, 2016, 08:33:36 AM
How anyone "feels" about it is irrelevant. People's personal experiences are irrelevant. Anecdotes are not data.

The difference in overall safety between a 10-year-old car and a brand-new one is very, very small. (And it's absolutely not that "37%" statistic some of you keep throwing around!) That is a statistical fact.

If you're so risk-averse that you want to spend thousands of dollars to be a tiny bit more safe, by all means, have at it. Just don't try to pretend you're acting rationally!
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Daleth on March 13, 2016, 08:49:29 AM
How anyone "feels" about it is irrelevant. People's personal experiences are irrelevant. Anecdotes are not data.

The difference in overall safety between a 10-year-old car and a brand-new one is very, very small. (And it's absolutely not that "37%" statistic some of you keep throwing around!) That is a statistical fact.

Uh huh. If it were a statistical fact, I suppose you would have a link to demonstrate that? Otherwise you're just telling us how you feel about the statistical facts that have been mentioned here. You can feel however you want, but that doesn't negate the massive reduction in the risk of having an accident in the first place that electronic stability control provides.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: The Happy Philosopher on March 13, 2016, 09:23:29 AM
How anyone "feels" about it is irrelevant. People's personal experiences are irrelevant. Anecdotes are not data.

The difference in overall safety between a 10-year-old car and a brand-new one is very, very small. (And it's absolutely not that "37%" statistic some of you keep throwing around!) That is a statistical fact.

If you're so risk-averse that you want to spend thousands of dollars to be a tiny bit more safe, by all means, have at it. Just don't try to pretend you're acting rationally!
It does make sense to spend money on small reductions in mortality when it is the leading cause of death in your age bracket. And as mentioned before, the morbidity is much higher than mortality and the statistics on this or more nebulous. I would argue there is no better place to spend your money to improve your safety other than making transportation safer (car, bike and pedestrian).

What else can you spend money on that is a one time upgrade, requires no addition time or effort, and lowers mortality and morbidity from one of the most dangerous activities you partake in?

Furthermore, if done with intelligence, should not cost all that much additional money. You can upgrade to a newer car with up to date safety features after it has gone through most of it's depreciation. Chances are you will be replacing the older car eventually (even the most frugal people I know replace their car after 15 years) so why not shift slightly higher on the curve and get something safer? It's one thing if buying something witch results in another 4 years of work, but for most people this is a rounding error when smoothed over a lifetime.

Here is an article showing the decrease in automobile fatalities (again, only death, it doesn't show morbidity reductions which are probably even more important) since the 1970's. It is relentlessly downward. I can not think how to explain this other than safety features on cars. If anything, with more people driving and the distraction of cellphones, etc. I would expect mortality to go up over time all else being equal. I'm sure the stigma against drunk driving has contributed, but I think safety features are likely the dominant factor.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year

Go hang out in an ER for a few weeks and see what kills young people (Auto and bike accidents, suicides, overdoses, gun shot wounds).

PS: The most effective 'safety feature' is probably figuring out how to drastically reduce your miles used for transportation in the first place, both car and bike.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: tobitonic on March 13, 2016, 10:35:49 AM
^ In addition, the rate of drunk driving fatalities (around 33%) has remained constant for more than 30 years in the US. People aren't driving more safely; we just have much safer vehicles keeping us alive.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Abe on March 13, 2016, 11:41:29 AM
People seem concentrated on fatality rates, which for obvious reasons are quite important. However, as others with trauma experience note, the long-term or short-term disability can also have a significant impact on one's life. We have all seen multiple people with severe traumatic brain injury or multiple long-bone fractures from collisions. In our experience in Chicago, and maybe others can comment in their area, the majority of collisions with significant injury involve at least one person abusing alcohol or another drug. This is worth noting since the majority of major car accidents are single-vehicle. However, a frequent injury mechanism is side impact from a drunk driver running a red light or swerving & clipping another car. While often not fatal as the momentum vectors are not head-on, they can cause significant injury due to the limited distance that the car's frame can crumple and absorb shock. Hence the reliance on side-impact airbags. I thus agree that improvement in side impact rating for your car would be a worthwhile expense, especially since this is the type of impact your children (in the back seat) would be most at risk of suffering major injury in.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Case on March 13, 2016, 11:51:50 AM
Learn how to drive, drive less and drive safely. Problems solved and no need for a new car.

ABS = pumping breaks
Traction Control = slow down when it's pouring or snowing and learn how to counteract your car's motion

If you don't know how to do the above, I suggest you go take a driving class. A skilled driver who drives defensively beats any safety technology you can cram into a car.

Wow, this is terrible advice.  Seriously, you could get someone killed with this advice.  Not all drivers are created equal and everyone has a different skill cap.  That said, your points are just wrong anyway and are ignorant of the technology you're criticizing.

ABS =/= pumping brakes by a long shot.  ABS works by repeatedly switching from static to kinetic friction at a speed that is IMPOSSIBLE for a human to replicate.  If you've ever used ABS, you'll feel the vibratory nature of the process.  Each vibration is essentially the car tire going from static friction (i.e. car tire is in contact with the pavement, no slippage, and requires MORE energy to overcome) to kinetic friction (i.e. car tire is now sliding across the driving surface, which requires significantly LESS energy to maintain this).  ABS switches back to static friction AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE to maximize your stopping power.  A HUMAN CANNOT REPLICATE THIS unless you've got a fucking jack hammer strapped to your foot against the brake pedal.

Traction control works in a similar way to ABS and will apply to specific wheels to maximize traction across all wheels under the current road conditions.  Again, this is not something that can be replicated by a human, we do not have control of individual wheels when driving.

Check this out for more information: http://brainonboard.ca/safety_features/active_safety_features_traction_control.php

And holy fuck that last statement is dangerous misinformation.

Your response is 100% spot on.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Case on March 13, 2016, 11:58:42 AM
I may be wrong here, but I thought airbags were designed for adults.  That's why kids aren't supposed to ride in the front seat.  I don't foresee side air bags helping out your kids too much in a crash. 

With regard to the catalytic converter, I vote get it fixed even though it's not legally required.  There are plenty of things states don't check for that are bad for the environment, that doesn't mean you should do them.

Both excellent points. While airbags may not protect my kids, they would help ensure my kids still have parents around should we be in an accident. :)

Also, my concern about fixing the cat is in regards to the value of the car (i.e. very little) and also the environmental impact on manufacturing a new cat and the disposal of the old. I read recently that the environmental impact would likely be a wash.

I am not familiar with the background data on this argument, but I am highly dubious of this.  The purpose of the cat is to reduce the environmental impact of the emissions in the first place.  If manufacturing the cat caused more of an impact than the benefit of using it, there would be no purpose to it.  The catalytic converters is a poster child for chemical engineering success stories.  It is unbelievably efficient.  I'm going to speculate that your interest in not replacing the cat for any sort of environmental benefit is really just a front to save money.

If you will post links to some legit info on the topic, i'll get it a read through.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Genevieve on March 13, 2016, 04:01:12 PM
Since your car doesn't have ESC, I would upgrade. The extra $5k seems very small in the bigger picture of life. ESC is a major safety feature and has statistics to support it.

The times when it kicks in are the times when even a good driver can mess up. Flinch at something unexpected on a slippery road? Wobble when someone looks like they are coming in your lane on a slippery highway? Try to get in the other lane when it's raining and someone is riding your bumper because you're driving slowly and spin out? In all these cases, you are being a defensive driver and you can still get unlucky.

As much as we all like to think we are superior drivers... we're aren't. Everyone thinks they are better than average... which obviously they can't be.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: dess1313 on March 13, 2016, 09:00:39 PM
Um, so it will be safe for you to drive a twenty year old car in twenty years, but it's not safe to drive a ten or 12 year old car now? That makes no sense.

Also, the accidents you cite, drunk and distracted  drivers hitting others and pedestrians... How will your outback save u from those?

And u are saying your neighbor who died in a head on collision with a drunk driver would be fine today if they had been driving a new car?

I'm just not sure all of that is true.

The car i previously drove was only acceptable in head on collisions, and the other side/overlap/roof tests were not even done on them at the time.  it could fail in all those segments for all i know because they were never tested till later years.  later models tested poor in the side and seat tests so i suspect mine would have too.   1998 is actually the first toyota corolla year even rated in the IIHS website. 
The car i now drive is rated as good in all categories.  it means that if i were to get hit on the side of my vehicle i am much more likely to survive instead of being turned into hamburger. 

My neighbors car was rated poorly in head on collision stats when i looked it up. a car rated better (it was about 10 years old) might have saved their lives.  we will never know.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: dess1313 on March 13, 2016, 09:17:20 PM

I drove a 98 corolla for years.  Our family bought it new.   After a very very close call on the highway, and later seeing old neighbors of mine killed in a head on collision due to a drunk/stolen vehicle being at fault i decided my safety was worth something.

Maybe i should explain that i almost hit another car due to the antics of a drunk driver blocking my view and giving no warning there was anything to slow down for.  I would have hit the stopped car ahead of me at 90km/hr on a dark highway with no where but the shoulder and ditch to go to.  I then would have had the large truck behind me rear end me if he was unable to avoid us.  I did not like the idea of being turned into hamburger by 2 collisions from which would i would have not walked away from.

this is what got me looking up statistics and safety ratings, instead of just what was fun to drive/met my physical needs. I had less than 3 seconds to decide what do do.  I barely was able to steer clear of the stopped vehicle, in the dark, on a busy highway, and somehow managed to stay on the gravel shoulder without hitting the ditch and or rolling my car off the shoulder into the ditch.  I am a good driver but even i was put to the test here.

It wasn't until 2 months later my neighbors died, and when i looked up the statistics for their vehicle i was shocked at how poor they were.  Safety became my #1 priority.  Because even good drivers can get screwed over by others driving poorly.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: JLee on March 13, 2016, 09:36:22 PM
This topic generates a lot of passionate debate for sure, so I will tell you how I approach this:


Nailed it.

Yep. Especially the point about how comparing car crashes, which are approximately the #1 killer and disabler of young people, to diseases that kill or disable folks in their 60s-80s is misleading and irrelevant. We're talking about something that can kill or permanently disable you when you still have 30-50 years left to live and are at an age where you likely have young children. It's a much more important risk to hedge against than things that are unlikely to affect you until you're old and your children are grown.

Um, so it will be safe for you to drive a twenty year old car in twenty years, but it's not safe to drive a ten or 12 year old car now? That makes no sense.

It makes perfect sense. The safety features that come on a 2015 or 2016 Subaru Outback are light years ahead of what came on a 2006 or 2004 car (including an Outback of that vintage). 10-12-year-old cars may not even have side airbags, and with a minuscule number of exceptions, they definitely don't have electronic stability control/traction control.

The biggest technological leaps in car safety in the last 20 years are:

- Front airbags: mandatory as of September 1998 (so, 1999 model year--but not all 1999 cars had them because many were manufactured before September 1998).

- Side airbags: still not mandatory as of 2016, but available on most cars. "In a 2006 report, the IIHS said side head airbags reduced driver deaths by 37% and ones that protected the chest and abdomen reduced deaths by 26%."
https://www.cars.com/articles/2013/08/are-front-side-airbags-required-standard-equipment/#LKRAD5os2GCjZKzQ.99

- Electronic stability control, a.k.a. dynamic stability control: mandatory as of 2012. We've already discussed in this thread how dramatically this feature reduces the death risk, and also how the way it reduces it is not by protecting you in a crash by reducing the number of crashes that happen in the first place--a HUGE advantage.

Now do you see why most new cars are much safer than most 2004-06 cars?
Three out of five vehicles I've owned from 2004-2007 have had stability/traction control. Not standard, but far from minuscule...
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: ooeei on March 14, 2016, 07:01:44 AM
How anyone "feels" about it is irrelevant. People's personal experiences are irrelevant. Anecdotes are not data.

The difference in overall safety between a 10-year-old car and a brand-new one is very, very small. (And it's absolutely not that "37%" statistic some of you keep throwing around!) That is a statistical fact.

Uh huh. If it were a statistical fact, I suppose you would have a link to demonstrate that? Otherwise you're just telling us how you feel about the statistical facts that have been mentioned here. You can feel however you want, but that doesn't negate the massive reduction in the risk of having an accident in the first place that electronic stability control provides.

I just want to point out the "massive reduction in risk" is reducing a risk that has a rate of 0.01% (1/10,000).  The folks talking about younger people being more likely to die from that than heart attack are right, I didn't consider that angle.  The other thing I would like to point out, is that 0.01% counts EVERYBODY.  That means drunk drivers, the guy doing wheelies on the highway on his motorcycle, that dumbass from high school you can't believe they let out in the real world, the college kid texting every drive, etc etc.  Yes, I know, those people could potentially crash into you, but they are part of that .01%.  That means just being a safe, aware driver lowers your chances from that rate.

Sure, he can spend the money to reduce his risk from the <.01% that it is to slightly less, maybe .008%, but is that really the best way to spend his limited capital?  For some of you the answer seems to be "safety at any cost" which is fine, but not very efficient. As far as I know nobody here bought a tesla for its safety, because at a certain point you decided the moderate gain wasn't worth it.  Driving safely and being aware carries a risk of <1/10,000.  Any gain at this point is moderate. If he has 10+ years left to work, sure, get the newer car if it makes you feel better.  But keep in mind in 5 years or so everyone will be here telling you why you need yet another new car with newer safety features.  If he's 3-5 years away from FI or getting a lower commute job, and getting the new car will push him back 6 months, I'd say don't do it.

As to the emergency room folks, I understand you see some horrible things, but at least acknowledge you have a biased view. 

- Side airbags: still not mandatory as of 2016, but available on most cars. "In a 2006 report, the IIHS said side head airbags reduced driver deaths by 37% and ones that protected the chest and abdomen reduced deaths by 26%."
https://www.cars.com/articles/2013/08/are-front-side-airbags-required-standard-equipment/#LKRAD5os2GCjZKzQ.99


The report in the link on that page states that side impact crashes account for 27% of deaths. It's quite hard to believe side airbags actually prevented all side impact deaths, and some non side impact deaths as the 37% figure would suggest. 

The actual report doesn't mention the 37% number at all, although I did see it in another paper that said that was the upper bound of reduction in side impact deaths (lower bound was something like 12%).  The report does say there is a 70% reduction in side impact deaths with cars rated "good" vs "poor" in side impact.  Combining that with their 27% of deaths are side impact number, we come up with an overall death reduction of 70% of 27%, or a 19% total reduction in deaths from side airbags. 

Still a significant reduction, but about half what the article said.  Not sure where they got their data from.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jack on March 14, 2016, 08:58:36 AM
How anyone "feels" about it is irrelevant. People's personal experiences are irrelevant. Anecdotes are not data.

The difference in overall safety between a 10-year-old car and a brand-new one is very, very small. (And it's absolutely not that "37%" statistic some of you keep throwing around!) That is a statistical fact.

Uh huh. If it were a statistical fact, I suppose you would have a link to demonstrate that? Otherwise you're just telling us how you feel about the statistical facts that have been mentioned here. You can feel however you want, but that doesn't negate the massive reduction in the risk of having an accident in the first place that electronic stability control provides.

Finding statistics about the crash rate (as opposed to the injury or fatality rate) is kind of hard. Here's the best I could do:

http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812219.pdf

It shows that the injury rate ranged from 151 injuries per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 1990 to 77 injuries per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2014. Let's use the higher number: 151

That means that if you travel 10,000 miles per year, your likelihood of getting injured is 151/100,000,000 * 10,000 = 0.0151 injuries/year. In other words, if you drive 10,000 miles a year you have less than a 1.5% chance of being injured that year - and that's if you drive a car with safety features typical of the 1990 vehicle mix (which really means a car built, on average, in the mid-'80s).

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001457507000851?np=y

This article -- which I can't read because it's behind a paywall -- claims in its abstract that ESC reduces single-vehicle accidents by about half, and multi-vehicle fatal accidents by about a third.

So, let's charitably assume that ESC reduces the overall injury rate by half (again, a generous assumption that favors your thesis). In that case, your chance of injury drops from 1.5% per year to 0.75% per year. Happily, that number jives with what we would have gotten if we'd just used the 2014 figure from the first study: 77/100,000,000 * 10,000 = 0.77% chance of injury per year.

Is the difference between 1.5% and 0.75% very small? You may disagree, but I think so!

People seem concentrated on fatality rates, which for obvious reasons are quite important.

We concentrate on them not just because they're important, but because they're easier to find statistics about than injuries. (What counts as an injury? Do a few cuts and bruises count as equivalent to permanent paralysis, or is there some kind of weighting scheme? Etc.)

The times when it kicks in are the times when even a good driver can mess up. Flinch at something unexpected on a slippery road? Wobble when someone looks like they are coming in your lane on a slippery highway? Try to get in the other lane when it's raining and someone is riding your bumper because you're driving slowly and spin out? In all these cases, you are being a defensive driver and you can still get unlucky.

No, that's not being a defensive driver. In all those cases, you should have been going even slower to begin with. You should be going slow enough that "flinching" should not cause a loss of control. You should be going slow enough that "wobbling" should not cause a loss of control. You should be going slow enough that merely changing lanes should not cause a loss of control! And if you feel that you would have to slow down so much in order to maintain control that you can't safely negotiate traffic, then you should pull over and quit driving until conditions improve (or until you get better tires that can deal with the conditions, which is most likely the real problem in that sort of situation).
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Genevieve on March 14, 2016, 11:16:38 AM
@Jack It doesn't take that slippery of a road for these things to happen. I was in an accident myself from spinning out when it had barely started to rain. It's not practical to stop driving anytime it starts to sprinkle or any time there's a wet road.

But anyways, great job on actually getting some statistics! But it's more than just the % of occurence. It's also how bad the result could be.

If we were trying to get at the expectation value of this decision, the equation might be:

EV = Lowered rate of death for improved safety factor*Cost of life (adjusted by the # of people in the car and how often they are in the car)*(fudge factor for how likely you are to encounter the scenario vs. the rate of the average population)
+
EV = Lowered rate of disability for improved safety factor*Cost for lowered quality of life after the disability (adjusted by the # of people in the car and how often they are in the car)*Fudge factor

If this value is about the cost of the upgrade, probably worth it.

For ESC:

For EV (disability):

EV(disability) = 0.77%*$300k for 1 person*.5 (assumes you wear a seat belt at all times)= $1,150

I made up the 300k number -- couldn't find a good number for it. Maybe average pain and suffering awarded in a car accident settlement, if I could find such a thing.


For EV(death):

DOT has the value of a life around $6 million.
Using the same statistics as above, the rate of death is 2.08/100,000,000*10,000= .0208.
Divide that in half for ESC = 0.0104
EV(death) = 0.0104%*6 mil for 1 person*.5 (wear a seat belt) = $312

Total EV for ESC = $1462

Then add the EV for side airbags as well. Just to make it easy, assume the above x2.
Total EV of the upgrade is then $2,924.

If you spent the ~$3k, you wouldn't be able to use it for investing. The present value of the opportunity cost of investing the money for 10 years at 8% return, 3% inflation is ~$1,800.

So if you can make the upgrade for ~$1,100, not a bad idea. It's in the ballpark of a positive EV. If you weight all of the factors above differently, you'll be OK with spending more or less on the upgrade.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: JLee on March 14, 2016, 11:19:32 AM
@Jack It doesn't take that slippery of a road for these things to happen. I was in an accident myself from spinning out when it had barely started to rain. It's not practical to stop driving anytime it starts to sprinkle or any time there's a wet road.

But anyways, great job on actually getting some statistics! But it's more than just the % of occurence. It's also how bad the result could be.

If we were trying to get at the expectation value of this decision, the equation might be:

EV = Lowered rate of death for improved safety factor*Cost of life (adjusted by the # of people in the car and how often they are in the car)*(fudge factor for how likely you are to encounter the scenario vs. the rate of the average population)
+
EV = Lowered rate of disability for improved safety factor*Cost for lowered quality of life after the disability (adjusted by the # of people in the car and how often they are in the car)*Fudge factor

If this value is about the cost of the upgrade, probably worth it.

For ESC:

For EV (disability):

EV(disability) = 0.77%*$300k for 1 person*.5 (assumes you wear a seat belt at all times)= $1,150

I made up the 300k number -- couldn't find a good number for it. Maybe average pain and suffering awarded in a car accident settlement, if I could find such a thing.


For EV(death):

DOT has the value of a life around $6 million.
Using the same statistics as above, the rate of death is 2.08/100,000,000*10,000= .0208.
Divide that in half for ESC = 0.0104
EV(death) = 0.0104%*6 mil for 1 person*.5 (wear a seat belt) = $312

Total EV for ESC = $1462

Then add the EV for side airbags as well. Just to make it easy, assume the above x2.
Total EV of the upgrade is then $2,924.

If you spent the ~$3k, you wouldn't be able to use it for investing. The present value of the opportunity cost of investing the money for 10 years at 8% return, 3% inflation is ~$1,800.

So if you can make the upgrade for ~$1,100, not a bad idea. It's in the ballpark of a positive EV. If you weight all of the factors above differently, you'll be OK with spending more or less on the upgrade.

Good tires are important. :)
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Genevieve on March 14, 2016, 11:49:42 AM
@JLee My tires were a year old before the accident, so not a factor in my case. Sometimes s&#! happens.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jack on March 14, 2016, 12:10:43 PM
@Jack It doesn't take that slippery of a road for these things to happen. I was in an accident myself from spinning out when it had barely started to rain. It's not practical to stop driving anytime it starts to sprinkle or any time there's a wet road.

But anyways, great job on actually getting some statistics! But it's more than just the % of occurence. It's also how bad the result could be.

If we were trying to get at the expectation value of this decision, the equation might be:

EV = Lowered rate of death for improved safety factor*Cost of life (adjusted by the # of people in the car and how often they are in the car)*(fudge factor for how likely you are to encounter the scenario vs. the rate of the average population)
+
EV = Lowered rate of disability for improved safety factor*Cost for lowered quality of life after the disability (adjusted by the # of people in the car and how often they are in the car)*Fudge factor

If this value is about the cost of the upgrade, probably worth it.

For ESC:

For EV (disability):

EV(disability) = 0.77%*$300k for 1 person*.5 (assumes you wear a seat belt at all times)= $1,150

I made up the 300k number -- couldn't find a good number for it. Maybe average pain and suffering awarded in a car accident settlement, if I could find such a thing.


For EV(death):

DOT has the value of a life around $6 million.
Using the same statistics as above, the rate of death is 2.08/100,000,000*10,000= .0208.
Divide that in half for ESC = 0.0104
EV(death) = 0.0104%*6 mil for 1 person*.5 (wear a seat belt) = $312

Total EV for ESC = $1462

Then add the EV for side airbags as well. Just to make it easy, assume the above x2.
Total EV of the upgrade is then $2,924.

If you spent the ~$3k, you wouldn't be able to use it for investing. The present value of the opportunity cost of investing the money for 10 years at 8% return, 3% inflation is ~$1,800.

So if you can make the upgrade for ~$1,100, not a bad idea. It's in the ballpark of a positive EV. If you weight all of the factors above differently, you'll be OK with spending more or less on the upgrade.

Good analysis, but I have two objections:

1. My guess is that the average injury costs much less than $300K, and the median injury costs even less than that.

2. Being able to get ESC and side airbags for only $1,100 is unlikely. First of all, those features almost certainly increase the cost of a car by more than that (at least the airbags do; ESC is mostly free once you have ABS and a computer). Second, we're not comparing otherwise-identical cars with and without the safety features; we're comparing newish vehicles with the safety features to much older ones without. And the cost difference between a 10-year-old car and a 5-year-old car in the same class is almost always going to be much more than $1,100.

@JLee My tires were a year old before the accident, so not a factor in my case. Sometimes s&#! happens.

Agreed that sometimes shit happens. However, the type of tires also matters. Drag slicks, even brand new ones, will be useless in the rain, for example. Really cheap tires might suck in almost any road conditions. I'm not saying you necessarily made a bad choice in tires; I'm just saying that it's possible some exist that might have been good enough (under those specific conditions, and possibly with trade-offs elsewhere) to prevent your accident.

By the way: the few minutes just after it starts raining are actually the worst conditions for traction (other than the road completely flooding and causing a hydroplaning event, of course). This is because the oil and whatnot that has dripped onto the road since the last storm gets lifted to the surface, but hasn't been washed away yet.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: randymarsh on March 14, 2016, 04:14:04 PM
2. Being able to get ESC and side airbags for only $1,100 is unlikely. First of all, those features almost certainly increase the cost of a car by more than that (at least the airbags do; ESC is mostly free once you have ABS and a computer). Second, we're not comparing otherwise-identical cars with and without the safety features; we're comparing newish vehicles with the safety features to much older ones without. And the cost difference between a 10-year-old car and a 5-year-old car in the same class is almost always going to be much more than $1,100.

KBB says a 2005 Civic without side airbags is worth $4700 with 100K miles.  A 2005 Civic with side airbags and ABS is worth $4800.

The difference between a 2005 without those features and a 2010 with them is around $3500. This gets harder to compare because a 2005 with 100000 miles is different than a 2010 with 50000. I don't think a $3500 difference is outrageous for a car that is safer and has 50000 fewer miles.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Daleth on March 14, 2016, 07:52:18 PM
@Jack It doesn't take that slippery of a road for these things to happen. I was in an accident myself from spinning out when it had barely started to rain. It's not practical to stop driving anytime it starts to sprinkle or any time there's a wet road.

But anyways, great job on actually getting some statistics! But it's more than just the % of occurence. It's also how bad the result could be.

If we were trying to get at the expectation value of this decision, the equation might be:

EV = Lowered rate of death for improved safety factor*Cost of life (adjusted by the # of people in the car and how often they are in the car)*(fudge factor for how likely you are to encounter the scenario vs. the rate of the average population)
+
EV = Lowered rate of disability for improved safety factor*Cost for lowered quality of life after the disability (adjusted by the # of people in the car and how often they are in the car)*Fudge factor

If this value is about the cost of the upgrade, probably worth it.

For ESC:

For EV (disability):

EV(disability) = 0.77%*$300k for 1 person*.5 (assumes you wear a seat belt at all times)= $1,150

I made up the 300k number -- couldn't find a good number for it. Maybe average pain and suffering awarded in a car accident settlement, if I could find such a thing.

Good analysis, but I have two objections:

1. My guess is that the average injury costs much less than $300K, and the median injury costs even less than that.

The average injury costs less than $300k, sure. But the average permanent disability?! No way. My mother is quadriplegic, and until she got old she was a very high functioning quadriplegic. She still has enough movement in her arms that if you put a pen between her fingers she can write (not very clearly, but it's readable). Guess how much it costs her to get out of bed in the morning, get cleaned up and dressed, and reverse the whole process to go back to bed at night? Around $5000/month. Yes, $60,000 a year. So imagine what it costs for someone who needs more than a few hours' care every morning and night. Imagine round the clock care, for instance. Guess what that costs.

And when (not if but when) she develops the problems that go with being even paraplegic, much less quadriplegic--namely, the occasional serious bedsore--she has to get a nurse to come daily to change the wound dressing. Medicare won't pay for daily visits, so guess how much that costs? You don't even want to know.

And of course, I'm not counting a dime of what it cost to make her home wheelchair accessible, to set things up (computer, microwave...) so she can use them, to get a wheelchair-accessible car (she can't drive it due to her condition, but no one can drive her anywhere unless she's in a van that has a ramp to get in and wheelchair tie-downs to hold her in place)...

To be disabled from your 20s or 30s or 40s until your death, assuming you have a normal life span, costs literally $1 million-$5 million. You might be in a state with semidecent Medicaid benefits that could help you cover some of that, or you might not. You might have worked enough years to have decent social security disability payments--and by decent I mean, like, over $1000/month--or you might not have. You might have decent disability insurance... or not.

Knowing from my mom what it's like to be severely disabled, I have no problem whatsoever paying major bucks for a safer vehicle. $3500 or $10,000 is NOTHING compared to that. Literally: replace Genevieve's unrealistically low $300k number in that equation with $3 million, which is what you're looking at if you become severely disabled, say, in your 30s, don't have decent disability insurance or much in the way of social security disability payments, and still want to have a decent quality of life. The number you should then be willing to pay to get a car safe enough to reduce your risk by the stated amount isn't $1,150, but $11,500. That's what the "insurance" of a very safe car is worth.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jack on March 14, 2016, 09:11:11 PM
1. My guess is that the average injury costs much less than $300K, and the median injury costs even less than that.

The average injury costs less than $300k, sure. But the average permanent disability?! No way.

[irrelevant personal anecdote removed]

...I have no problem whatsoever paying major bucks for a safer vehicle. $3500 or $10,000 is NOTHING compared to that. Literally: replace Genevieve's unrealistically low $300k number in that equation with $3 million, which is what you're looking at if you become severely disabled, say, in your 30s, don't have decent disability insurance or much in the way of social security disability payments, and still want to have a decent quality of life. The number you should then be willing to pay to get a car safe enough to reduce your risk by the stated amount isn't $1,150, but $11,500. That's what the "insurance" of a very safe car is worth.

Sure, fine -- permanent disabilities cost much more than $300,000. But you know what? They happen at least one order of magnitude less often too! So yes, let's say we replace that $300,000 with $3,000,000. But then we also have to replace 0.77% with 0.077% (or realistically, a number even smaller than that) and we're back where we started.

The math is the math is the math. It doesn't give a shit about how emotionally you want to describe your anecdote; you do the calculation and you get the answer. Then you can either choose to accept that answer and act rationally, or not. Your choice. What you can't choose to do is fool us with hysterical bullshit.

Side airbags: NHTSA estimates that as of 2012, 2,252 lives have been saved by side airbags. 4 Side airbags with head protection reduce a car driver's risk of death in driver-side crashes by 37 percent and an SUV driver's risk by 52 percent

Yeah, nobody disputes that. But the key words are "in driver-side crashes." That 37% is the probability only after you've assumed that the accident has in fact occurred. Conditional probability (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conditional_probability)! Learn it!
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: tobitonic on March 14, 2016, 09:21:05 PM
Yeah, nobody disputes that. But the key words are "in driver-side crashes." That 37% is the probability only after you've assumed that the accident has in fact occurred.

There's no reason to wear your seat belt either, by your line of thought, as they only reduce your odds of death by about 45% once you're involved in an accident.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: tobitonic on March 14, 2016, 09:31:52 PM
The math is the math is the math.

The math states multiple things. It states auto fatalities are a minority relative to all causes of mortality. It also states auto fatalities occur tens of thousands of times a year, and are among the primary killers of young and middle-aged people. It also states crashes are much less likely to be fatal (or to occur at all) with certain features built into your vehicles. If you choose to ignore parts of the math, that's your choice, but it doesn't make it irrelevant. It just means it's not important to you. It's part of the same math, so there's no need for arrogance when cherrypicking it.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jack on March 14, 2016, 10:11:27 PM
Yeah, nobody disputes that. But the key words are "in driver-side crashes." That 37% is the probability only after you've assumed that the accident has in fact occurred.

There's no reason to wear your seat belt either, by your line of thought, as they only reduce your odds of death by about 45% once you're involved in an accident.

The difference is that wearing a seat belt has no marginal COST. My car already has them, and even if it didn't they'd be cheap to add. My car does not have side airbags and ESC -- to get them in the same model of car would cost me at least an extra $10,000, because I'd have to upgrade from a '90 model to a 2006 or so -- and that cost is what makes the difference.

It's like the scene from Fight Club, where they talk about car safety recalls, and how if it's statistically cheaper not to do the recall, then they don't do it. That is correct reasoning! That is the harsh reality! The movie may be fictional, but the cost/benefit analysis is real. The math doesn't change just because you don't like it.

(Also: is it really only 45%, or did you make up that number randomly?)

It also states auto fatalities occur tens of thousands of times a year, and are among the primary killers of young and middle-aged people.

Only because the vast, vast majority of young and middle-aged people don't die at all in the first place. Once again: conditional probability!

It also states crashes are much less likely to be fatal (or to occur at all) with certain features built into your vehicles. If you choose to ignore that last part, that's your choice, but it doesn't make it irrelevant. It just means it's not important to you. It's part of the same math, so there's no need for arrogance when cherrypicking it.

First, I am not cherrypicking, and if you think my tone is arrogant then too fucking bad -- quit reading if you don't like it! This is not some political discussion or whatever where opinions matter. This is me telling you that 2+2=4, and you complaining that 4 makes you sad or something!

Second, you've got the cause and effect backwards: it is only not important to me because it is statistically insignificant, not the other way around as you claim.

You people must think I have some sort of insane death wish or something. Rest assured, I do not! If the statistics said the extra safety were worth the cost, then I would agree!

You'll note, for example, that I have not objected to thefinancialstudent's post that for a 2005 Civic, the difference in cost for side airbags is only $100. Yes, that's worth it! Of course that's worth it! If the expected value of airbags were $1,100 as Genevieve calculated, then $100 would be a veritable bargain!

I only object to people who pull fantasy bullshit out of their asses because they get upset by reality, and that's what Daleth did when he claimed that side airbags and ESC were worth $11,500. Just think logically about it for a second: if that were actually the case, the the NHTSA would be calling for every car worth less than $11,500 that didn't have those features to be recalled and scrapped or something and Ralph Nader would be getting more news coverage than Trump!



TL;DR: New safety features have a value. It's larger than $100, but a whole lot smaller than $10,000 -- the best estimate so far (in this thread, at least) is somewhere around $1,000. If it costs you less than that to get the safety features, you should do so. If it costs more, then you're perfectly welcome to still get them anyway, but you are on notice that you aren't being rational about it.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jack on March 14, 2016, 10:17:41 PM
And one more thing: if you want to act irrationally, have at it! We're human; irrational is what we do. Just be honest about it:

"My name is Jack, and I act irrationally sometimes!" Yes, I do. I try not to -- I try harder than most -- but it happens.

And that's okay -- really! Overpay for safety features! Pay down your mortgage instead of investing! Buy insurance you don't actually need! If that's what it takes to let you sleep at night, it's okay.

The only thing that's not okay is deceiving yourself (or giving bad advice to others based on your self-deception).
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: The Happy Philosopher on March 14, 2016, 11:29:21 PM
You can not use average risk models to make decisions which have an unequal distribution of outcomes (like fatal car crashes).

By using this logic with statistics, no insurance makes sense. The average person looses mathematically with insurance. That doesn't mean you should not buy it. It is to your massive advantage to hedge against risk that has lethal or highly disabling characteristics, even when the probabilities are small.

There are soooo many risks we can not hedge against, but the one risk that has one of the highest probabilities of killing us while we are young we CAN hedge against. It is absolutely not irrational to spend more money here than would be 'rational' using the mathematics of average risk.

A medical disaster is one of those black swan events that can derail FI. I have seen this occur so many times I'm not even surprised by it anymore. Aside from simple healthy living I'm not aware of any other scenario where a young person can trade money for lower mortality risk.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: dess1313 on March 14, 2016, 11:42:01 PM
Because i choose to pay more than bargain bottom for a car does not make me irrational

The fact that none of the cars i wanted used are available without bad crashes or having been rusted out limits my choice in a bad salt belt area.  I looked at hundreds of cars and many were red flagged from maintenance reports, crash reports, came from provinces with bad nonreporting of accidents,  or had obvious rust forming on a 5yr old vehicle.  Hence it was very very difficult to find anything of value. 

Could i be biased from seeing people die at work every week?  Hell yeah.  I see the <1% of these crash statistics you so haphasardly throw around.  The chance of winning the powerball is astronomically small but someone eventually wins it,  those 1% of crashes will continue to happen every day.  Someone will eventually be tagged. And ill continue to take care of them daily and watch families be torn apart by death and debilitating injuries.

And guess what?  Its not irrational to reduce your debt risk slightly by some small paydowns.  So many people are playing a game of rob peter to pay paul.  Yes the market always supposed to go up but you cant have any guarantee what it will do. Or when.  When the interest rate goes up and im forced to refinance at a higher rate ill be in much better shape than my neighbors.  Especially if the matkets tanked 20-40% as we hit another bad market crash.

My risk tolerance is very different than some here.  That does not mean im irrational.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: tobitonic on March 15, 2016, 06:12:39 AM
Quote from: Jack

The difference is that wearing a seat belt has no marginal COST.

Nope. That's just you using another part of math--whether it costs you out of pocket money or not--to justify your actions. It doesn't change the math.

Quote
(Also: is it really only 45%, or did you make up that number randomly?)

If you don't know what the math says (http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/safety-belts/topicoverview), you really shouldn't go about questioning it.

Quote
Only because the vast, vast majority of young and middle-aged people don't die at all in the first place. Once again: conditional probability!

Once again, doesn't matter. It's still math. You're just ignoring it because it doesn't matter to you.

Quote
First, I am not cherrypicking,

Yeah, you are. See above.

Quote
, but you are on notice that you aren't being rational about it.

Says the guy who's ignoring the parts of the math he doesn't find convenient. Got it.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: tobitonic on March 15, 2016, 06:16:32 AM
And one more thing: if you want to act irrationally, have at it!

Like when you wear your seat belt despite it offering no additional safety benefits whatsoever unless you're in a crash?
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: ooeei on March 15, 2016, 06:55:22 AM
You can not use average risk models to make decisions which have an unequal distribution of outcomes (like fatal car crashes).

By using this logic with statistics, no insurance makes sense. The average person looses mathematically with insurance. That doesn't mean you should not buy it. It is to your massive advantage to hedge against risk that has lethal or highly disabling characteristics, even when the probabilities are small.

There are soooo many risks we can not hedge against, but the one risk that has one of the highest probabilities of killing us while we are young we CAN hedge against. It is absolutely not irrational to spend more money here than would be 'rational' using the mathematics of average risk.

A medical disaster is one of those black swan events that can derail FI. I have seen this occur so many times I'm not even surprised by it anymore. Aside from simple healthy living I'm not aware of any other scenario where a young person can trade money for lower mortality risk.

Then how much money should you trade?  Is there a limit?  If OP can reduce his risk of horrible disability or death by .00001% for $100,000 should he?  There's always a limit to what you individually can tolerate.  Yes, rationally you shouldn't get most insurance.  The point I believe Jack was making is that it's OKAY to not make every decision mathematically and rationally, but pointing out the math still has value.  I know plenty of people who buy insurance for their iphone because nobody has ever shown them the math.  Some of them would probably still buy it anyway, but that's their choice to make after being shown the numbers, and is not a rational choice.  That's fine.  It doesn't make them stupid, or crazy, or uneducated, it just means they made an irrational decision because it makes them feel better. 

I do irrational things all the time, but I still appreciate understanding the math behind them.

And one more thing: if you want to act irrationally, have at it!

Like when you wear your seat belt despite it offering no additional safety benefits whatsoever unless you're in a crash?

How does doing something for FREE that reduces probability in the future of you spending money, irrational?  If seatbelts cost $100 every time you buckled them, or cost $10,000 to put in a car, I'd probably think twice about it.  As it is they are FREE, and even if they only provide a $1 benefit in a 1/100,000,000 scenario (they provide much more than that, but for fun let's say it's this) it's still rational to use it. 

Cost: $0
Benefit: $0.000000001
Benefit is greater than cost, so it's a logical decision.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Daleth on March 15, 2016, 07:45:31 AM

It's like the scene from Fight Club, where they talk about car safety recalls, and how if it's statistically cheaper not to do the recall, then they don't do it. That is correct reasoning! That is the harsh reality! The movie may be fictional, but the cost/benefit analysis is real. The math doesn't change just because you don't like it.

Let me finish your sentence for you: "That is correct reasoning if you value money over human life and would rather be permanently disabled than spend money on a better car."

And here's a real-life example: What you just called "correct reasoning" is what made Ford not recall the Pinto back in the seventies when they realized that the way they had designed the gas tank was horrifically dangerous. They didn't recall the car, and that decision caused nearly 1000 human beings to be killed or horrendously burned in accidents. Here's an article on that: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1977/09/pinto-madness

I don't happen to agree that that is "correct reasoning." Call me crazy, but I value human beings more than money.

It is to your massive advantage to hedge against risk that has lethal or highly disabling characteristics, even when the probabilities are small.

There are soooo many risks we can not hedge against, but the one risk that has one of the highest probabilities of killing us while we are young we CAN hedge against. It is absolutely not irrational to spend more money here than would be 'rational' using the mathematics of average risk.

A medical disaster is one of those black swan events that can derail FI. I have seen this occur so many times I'm not even surprised by it anymore. Aside from simple healthy living I'm not aware of any other scenario where a young person can trade money for lower mortality risk.

You, sir (or madam), have hit the nail on the head.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Genevieve on March 15, 2016, 08:06:12 AM
Absoutely, frugal doc. Even though I ran the calculation up above to get a sense of the cost, if you make the investment, you cut your risk of death and disability -- two terrible things. If you don't spend the money, you get a little bit richer. So for me, the EV does put it in context but it's better to err on the side of safety.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: ooeei on March 15, 2016, 08:27:10 AM
Let me finish your sentence for you: "That is correct reasoning if you value money over human life and would rather be permanently disabled than spend money on a better car."

And here's a real-life example: What you just called "correct reasoning" is what made Ford not recall the Pinto back in the seventies when they realized that the way they had designed the gas tank was horrifically dangerous. They didn't recall the car, and that decision caused nearly 1000 human beings to be killed or horrendously burned in accidents. Here's an article on that: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1977/09/pinto-madness

I don't happen to agree that that is "correct reasoning." Call me crazy, but I value human beings more than money.

So Ford lied about the problem, and basically tried to hide the mistake they made.  That is very different from the content of this thread, where the values are known and can be calculated.  Based on 1000 deaths, if Ford could have fixed the problem for less than $6,000,000*1000, or $6 BILLION, they should have.  I suspect their cost of tooling was <$6 billion.  They also probably lost a lot of goodwill and customers that cost them more than a fix would have.  Unfortunately there was corruption, and the extent of the damage wasn't known until it was too late.  To compare a corrupted company lying and hiding information to someone making an informed decision with easily acquired data is ridiculous.  I get that you were responding to the fight club quote, but I just want to point out that the Pinto debacle has nothing to do with OP choosing a car's safety feature cost/benefit.
 

One of the first things we talked about in engineering ethics class was this exact thing.  The professor asked what dollar value a human life was worth.  One of the first student responses was "priceless!"  The problem is, absolute safety is impossible, and diminishing returns set in after awhile.  Sure, everyone could drive around in $200,000 tanks and be safe from crashes, but at some point the cost outweighs the benefit, even if it's human life.  If every car in the US cost $200,000 and prevented every single death in vehicle crashes (which it still probably wouldn't), that would cost an extra 253 million x $180,000 (I'm assuming a current car costs $20k).  That's an extra $45 trillion dollars in car costs, to save 33,000 lives per year. That's a value of a little over a billion dollars per life.

My point here isn't that money is worth more than people.  The point is, you can add safety to anything if money is no object, but eventually it doesn't make sense.  Like it or not, there is a dollar value on a human fatality, there has to be for the world to work.  If human death was put at a value of "priceless," nothing with the chance of ever killing a single person could be produced for a cost less than "priceless" (infinity).  Currently the DOT puts a human life at $6 million.  If every car cost $200,000, we would prevent all vehicle fatalities, but the vast majority of people couldn't afford a car, and would have to deal with the consequences of that.

It is to your massive advantage to hedge against risk that has lethal or highly disabling characteristics, even when the probabilities are small.

There are soooo many risks we can not hedge against, but the one risk that has one of the highest probabilities of killing us while we are young we CAN hedge against. It is absolutely not irrational to spend more money here than would be 'rational' using the mathematics of average risk.

It is absolutely irrational to spend more money than is rational, by DEFINITION.  The best you can do is use the average unless you know for a fact that you are at more risk than average, in which case adjust your numbers accordingly.  The good news is you don't always have to be rational, and can do whatever makes you feel good. 
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jack on March 15, 2016, 08:29:26 AM

It's like the scene from Fight Club, where they talk about car safety recalls, and how if it's statistically cheaper not to do the recall, then they don't do it. That is correct reasoning! That is the harsh reality! The movie may be fictional, but the cost/benefit analysis is real. The math doesn't change just because you don't like it.

Let me finish your sentence for you: "That is correct reasoning if you value money over human life and would rather be permanently disabled than spend money on a better car."

And here's a real-life example: What you just called "correct reasoning" is what made Ford not recall the Pinto back in the seventies when they realized that the way they had designed the gas tank was horrifically dangerous. They didn't recall the car, and that decision caused nearly 1000 human beings to be killed or horrendously burned in accidents. Here's an article on that: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1977/09/pinto-madness

I don't happen to agree that that is "correct reasoning." Call me crazy, but I value human beings more than money.

Ford's problem with the Pinto was not the cost/benefit analysis in principle (assuming it was accurate -- see next paragraph), it was the fact that Ford's engineers failed to report the design defect to management and then lied about the crash test results. That was highly unethical.

Moreover, I'd wager that the engineers committed exactly the same error as you, in the opposite direction: I bet they skewed the cost/benefit analysis by fudging the numbers until it gave them the answer Lee Iacocca wanted to hear (in particular, by valuing a human life at only $200K, or $782K in 2016 dollars), just like you skewed the numbers to "prove" side airbags and ESC are worth $11,500.

Just so you know, I am an engineer. Fundamentally, all engineers have exactly two goals:

1. Act ethically.
2. Produce designs (that meet all client requirements) with the best cost/benefit ratio possible.

If you fudge the cost/benefit analysis, or you ignore its results, you have failed as an engineer. If you disregard safety or you irrationally overemphasize it, you have failed as an engineer. If you reject the idea that the value of a human life is not infinitely large, you cannot be an engineer (or an actuary, for that matter). Engineers have to deal in reality, not emotions.

And so when somebody comes a long and asks "is it worth doing X," I answer with an engineering analysis.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Trudie on March 15, 2016, 08:35:44 AM
Let me just put my vote in for a couple of safety features that are pretty standard these days -- side impact air bags and electronic stability control.

My father-in-law died in a car accident in which side impact air bags would have likely greatly reduced his injuries, based on feedback from the Highway Patrol.  The car he was driving was a late model import.

As for electronic stability control -- I have driven with it and without it.  It makes a big difference to me in the winter when I am driving on ice.  I don't fishtail like I once did.

As for new "safety features" that do everything from stopping your car to practically driving it for you... I am suspect of them and am concerned about malfunction.  But I would have a new enough car to have the basics, which are pretty much standard anymore.

And in the end, having decent tires, visibility, and basically paying attention are the best things and no technology can help that. 
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Paul der Krake on March 15, 2016, 08:50:52 AM
I was in a pretty violent accident a few weeks back, which completely wrecked my mid-90s, salvage-rebuilt beater and left me with a few flesh wounds and bruises, while the leaving the other (much larger) vehicle and its driver virtually intact. It was rather comical as the officer on scene had to ask multiple times where the impact occurred on the other gentleman's SUV, while my little Japanese vehicle was spread all over the road.

I tried running a few scenarios about how I would feel about beaters in general had I not walked away from the wreck. It's not easy to imagine one's own reactions. What if instead of minor flesh wounds, I had a broken arm? What about lifetime of back pain? What if my spouse had been killed? Would I be okay telling my in-laws that their only child died because we drove a shitbox even though we have a couple hundred thousand dollars in the bank?

Well, I still chose to replace it with another, barely-newer beater. I drive a fraction of what others do, avoid rush hour and distractions, keep good tires, don't drive in bad weather or at risky hours, and generally maintain a healthy and responsible lifestyle. So I like my odds. Judging from the low premiums, the actuaries seem to think so too.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: soupcxan on March 15, 2016, 09:05:49 AM
So I like my odds. Judging from the low premiums, the actuaries seem to think so too.

"low premiums = I'm safe" lol

Your car insurance actuaries don't have to pay out a cent if you are killed or disabled long-term. That risk is not priced in to your policy.

In fact, from their point of view on the medical bills they have to pay, they're probably giving you a lower rate for driving an econobox that ensures you die on impact instead of lingering in the hospital for a few months first.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Paul der Krake on March 15, 2016, 09:27:45 AM
Your car insurance actuaries don't have to pay out a cent if you are killed or disabled long-term. That risk is not priced in to your policy.
True. My car insurance estimates my likelihood of getting in an accident in the first place. The disability and life insurance policies provided by my employer rely exclusively on the risk profile of the average employee at my company, and AFAIK, they do not take my driver profile into consideration.

In fact, from their point of view on the medical bills they have to pay, they're probably giving you a lower rate for driving an econobox that ensures you die on impact instead of lingering in the hospital for a few months first.
That's an interesting claim. Do you have a source to support it?
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: The Happy Philosopher on March 15, 2016, 10:36:11 AM
 I would recommend books by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Antifragile, Black Swan), as he talks extensively about risk, outcomes and probabilities.

If you think like an actuary no insurance is every going to be a rational decision. Safety features are insurance. You have to consider outcomes.

Comparing insurance on an iPhone to purchasing a car with better safety features makes no sense. If you approach risk management with the "iPhone insurance model" you probably wont buy a safer car. 30,000 people don't die every year from losing their iPhone. It is a loss that makes so little difference in your life it's crazy to insure. Insuring your house against fire does make sense, even though it is mathematically a losing proposition in aggregate. There is so much asymmetric downside risk to having your house burn down. A serious car crash is like a house burning down, not losing an iPhone. If the average risk/reward (expected premium to payout ratio) is the same, you buy the home insurance but not the iPhone insurance.

I think if you understand the nature of probabilistic outcomes you buy the safer car.

Ponder this. There is a reason certain safety features are now mandated. They save lives and as a society we feel they are cost effective enough to legislate them. I'm sure those already arguing for saving money at any cost of risk will just dismiss it as too much government regulation, nonsense, etc. Airbags, seat belts and car seats were all considered not worth it at some point.

Do what you want. Live your life how you want, but don't dismiss purchasing additional safety as irrational, because for most people at moderate income levels it is not.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: TheLazyMan on March 15, 2016, 10:52:31 AM
How anyone "feels" about it is irrelevant. People's personal experiences are irrelevant. Anecdotes are not data.

The difference in overall safety between a 10-year-old car and a brand-new one is very, very small. (And it's absolutely not that "37%" statistic some of you keep throwing around!) That is a statistical fact.

If you're so risk-averse that you want to spend thousands of dollars to be a tiny bit more safe, by all means, have at it. Just don't try to pretend you're acting rationally!

Here is a statistical fact:
ESC led to a 33% reduction in fatal crashes. "Based on all fatal crashes in the United States during 10 years, ESC was found to have reduced fatal crash involvement risk by 33 percent — 20 percent for multiple-vehicle crashes and 49 percent for single-vehicle crashes. " http://www.iihs.org/frontend/iihs/documents/masterfiledocs.ashx?id=1740

The original poster is likely to reduce their risk by 33% if they upgrade to a vehicle with ESC even if that vehicle is 10 years old.

Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: TheLazyMan on March 15, 2016, 11:08:15 AM
@Jack It doesn't take that slippery of a road for these things to happen. I was in an accident myself from spinning out when it had barely started to rain. It's not practical to stop driving anytime it starts to sprinkle or any time there's a wet road.

But anyways, great job on actually getting some statistics! But it's more than just the % of occurence. It's also how bad the result could be.

If we were trying to get at the expectation value of this decision, the equation might be:

EV = Lowered rate of death for improved safety factor*Cost of life (adjusted by the # of people in the car and how often they are in the car)*(fudge factor for how likely you are to encounter the scenario vs. the rate of the average population)
+
EV = Lowered rate of disability for improved safety factor*Cost for lowered quality of life after the disability (adjusted by the # of people in the car and how often they are in the car)*Fudge factor

If this value is about the cost of the upgrade, probably worth it.

For ESC:

For EV (disability):

EV(disability) = 0.77%*$300k for 1 person*.5 (assumes you wear a seat belt at all times)= $1,150

I made up the 300k number -- couldn't find a good number for it. Maybe average pain and suffering awarded in a car accident settlement, if I could find such a thing.


For EV(death):

DOT has the value of a life around $6 million.
Using the same statistics as above, the rate of death is 2.08/100,000,000*10,000= .0208.
Divide that in half for ESC = 0.0104
EV(death) = 0.0104%*6 mil for 1 person*.5 (wear a seat belt) = $312

Total EV for ESC = $1462

Then add the EV for side airbags as well. Just to make it easy, assume the above x2.
Total EV of the upgrade is then $2,924.

If you spent the ~$3k, you wouldn't be able to use it for investing. The present value of the opportunity cost of investing the money for 10 years at 8% return, 3% inflation is ~$1,800.

So if you can make the upgrade for ~$1,100, not a bad idea. It's in the ballpark of a positive EV. If you weight all of the factors above differently, you'll be OK with spending more or less on the upgrade.

Let's not forget that these figures are per person per year.

If you typically have 4 people in the car and drive it for 10 years, multiply your figures times 40.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jack on March 15, 2016, 11:09:30 AM
Ponder this. There is a reason certain safety features are now mandated. They save lives and as a society we feel they are cost effective enough to legislate them. I'm sure those already arguing for saving money at any cost of risk will just dismiss it as too much government regulation, nonsense, etc. Airbags, seat belts and car seats were all considered not worth it at some point.

On the contrary: they only needed to be mandated in the first place because they failed the cost/benefit analysis and politicians, deciding based on their emotions instead of logic, decided to override the natural outcome. (Either that, or the politicians thought there was a Pinto-esque situation going on and didn't trust the auto industry's estimate of the cost.)

Either way, it's almost tautological that if the public thought the safety features were worth it then cars lacking them could not be profitably sold because nobody would want them, and regulation would not have been necessary.

How anyone "feels" about it is irrelevant. People's personal experiences are irrelevant. Anecdotes are not data.

The difference in overall safety between a 10-year-old car and a brand-new one is very, very small. (And it's absolutely not that "37%" statistic some of you keep throwing around!) That is a statistical fact.

If you're so risk-averse that you want to spend thousands of dollars to be a tiny bit more safe, by all means, have at it. Just don't try to pretend you're acting rationally!

Here is a statistical fact:
ESC led to a 33% reduction in fatal crashes. "Based on all fatal crashes in the United States during 10 years, ESC was found to have reduced fatal crash involvement risk by 33 percent — 20 percent for multiple-vehicle crashes and 49 percent for single-vehicle crashes. " http://www.iihs.org/frontend/iihs/documents/masterfiledocs.ashx?id=1740

The original poster is likely to reduce their risk by 33% if they upgrade to a vehicle with ESC even if that vehicle is 10 years old.

So what? That was NEVER IN DISPUTE IN THE FIRST PLACE.

The issue is that 33% of a number that's really small to begin with is also a really small number. And your post does not even address that.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: TheLazyMan on March 15, 2016, 11:23:34 AM
Ponder this. There is a reason certain safety features are now mandated. They save lives and as a society we feel they are cost effective enough to legislate them. I'm sure those already arguing for saving money at any cost of risk will just dismiss it as too much government regulation, nonsense, etc. Airbags, seat belts and car seats were all considered not worth it at some point.

On the contrary: they only needed to be mandated in the first place because they failed the cost/benefit analysis and politicians, deciding based on their emotions instead of logic, decided to override the natural outcome. (Either that, or the politicians thought there was a Pinto-esque situation going on and didn't trust the auto industry's estimate of the cost.)

Either way, it's almost tautological that if the public thought the safety features were worth it then cars lacking them could not be profitably sold because nobody would want them, and regulation would not have been necessary.

How anyone "feels" about it is irrelevant. People's personal experiences are irrelevant. Anecdotes are not data.

The difference in overall safety between a 10-year-old car and a brand-new one is very, very small. (And it's absolutely not that "37%" statistic some of you keep throwing around!) That is a statistical fact.

If you're so risk-averse that you want to spend thousands of dollars to be a tiny bit more safe, by all means, have at it. Just don't try to pretend you're acting rationally!

Here is a statistical fact:
ESC led to a 33% reduction in fatal crashes. "Based on all fatal crashes in the United States during 10 years, ESC was found to have reduced fatal crash involvement risk by 33 percent — 20 percent for multiple-vehicle crashes and 49 percent for single-vehicle crashes. " http://www.iihs.org/frontend/iihs/documents/masterfiledocs.ashx?id=1740

The original poster is likely to reduce their risk by 33% if they upgrade to a vehicle with ESC even if that vehicle is 10 years old.

So what? That was NEVER IN DISPUTE IN THE FIRST PLACE.

The issue is that 33% of a number that's really small to begin with is also a really small number. And your post does not even address that.

You're the one that disputed it!!!
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: ooeei on March 15, 2016, 11:28:44 AM
I would recommend books by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Antifragile, Black Swan), as he talks extensively about risk, outcomes and probabilities.

If you think like an actuary no insurance is every going to be a rational decision. Safety features are insurance. You have to consider outcomes.

Comparing insurance on an iPhone to purchasing a car with better safety features makes no sense. If you approach risk management with the "iPhone insurance model" you probably wont buy a safer car. 30,000 people don't die every year from losing their iPhone. It is a loss that makes so little difference in your life it's crazy to insure. Insuring your house against fire does make sense, even though it is mathematically a losing proposition in aggregate. There is so much asymmetric downside risk to having your house burn down. A serious car crash is like a house burning down, not losing an iPhone. If the average risk/reward (expected premium to payout ratio) is the same, you buy the home insurance but not the iPhone insurance.

I think if you understand the nature of probabilistic outcomes you buy the safer car.

Ponder this. There is a reason certain safety features are now mandated. They save lives and as a society we feel they are cost effective enough to legislate them. I'm sure those already arguing for saving money at any cost of risk will just dismiss it as too much government regulation, nonsense, etc. Airbags, seat belts and car seats were all considered not worth it at some point.

Do what you want. Live your life how you want, but don't dismiss purchasing additional safety as irrational, because for most people at moderate income levels it is not.

I guess one thing I hadn't considered is that you can value your life higher than the DOT estimate of $6,000,000 or whatever your insurance values you as.  In that case, you could make a rational argument for purchasing insurance or safety features that at first glance would seem wasteful.  Either that, or you can admit you're making an irrational choice and be done with it. 

The question I'd have for the path you suggest, is how much safer of a car should he buy?  There's typically not a "cap" on the amount you can spend on safety, so if we argue that the possible outcomes dictate the spending, we should be willing to spend a near limitless amount on preventing death or disability.  Should he spend $5000 more on a better car?  Why not $10,000, or $20,000, or $50,000?  The reason running the numbers helps is it tells you where to stop.

The vibe I get from most of the people in favor of buying a safer car is that they pick an arbitrary "safe enough" car that is middle of the road in current technology, and say that's the one to pick because it gives them the warm and fuzzies.  This strategy isn't necessarily bad, but it needs to be supported by more than "my cousin got in a bad wreck and would've been fine with side airbags" or "your life is worth more than a few thousand dollars" to convince me it's a rational decision. 

Assuming his current risk of dying in a car crash is .01% per year, and it's reduced by 1/3 to .0067% with these safety features, it means he's reducing his fatality risk by .0033%.  This means if we use the DOT $6 million value for his life, he should reasonably spend $198 ($6 million times .000033) per year for that reduction in risk.  Assuming he keeps the car for 10 years, he should be willing to spend around $1980 for that reduction. 

Adjust the numbers as you see fit for your situation, but you have to be able to quantify it to make a rational choice.  Either that, or as has been suggested multiple times, make the irrational choice because it helps you sleep at night.  That's totally fine, but just admit it for what it is.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jack on March 15, 2016, 11:47:50 AM
You're the one that disputed it!!!

Really? Quote the post where I denied that "ESC led to a 33% reduction in fatal crashes," please.

I guess one thing I hadn't considered is that you can value your life higher than the DOT estimate of $6,000,000 or whatever your insurance values you as.  In that case, you could make a rational argument for purchasing insurance or safety features that at first glance would seem wasteful.  Either that, or you can admit you're making an irrational choice and be done with it. 

The question I'd have for the path you suggest, is how much safer of a car should he buy?  There's typically not a "cap" on the amount you can spend on safety, so if we argue that the possible outcomes dictate the spending, we should be willing to spend a near limitless amount on preventing death or disability.  Should he spend $5000 more on a better car?  Why not $10,000, or $20,000, or $50,000?  The reason running the numbers helps is it tells you where to stop.

The vibe I get from most of the people in favor of buying a safer car is that they pick an arbitrary "safe enough" car that is middle of the road in current technology, and say that's the one to pick because it gives them the warm and fuzzies.  This strategy isn't necessarily bad, but it needs to be supported by more than "my cousin got in a bad wreck and would've been fine with side airbags" or "your life is worth more than a few thousand dollars" to convince me it's a rational decision. 

Exactly.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: TheLazyMan on March 15, 2016, 11:51:43 AM
The issue is that 33% of a number that's really small to begin with is also a really small number. And your post does not even address that.

Let's use some real figures.

In 2004 there were 31,750 vehicle occupant fatalities in the US.
In 2014 that had decreased to 21,102.
A decrease of 33.5%

US population in 2004: 292,800,000
US population in 2014: 318,900,000

Vehicle occupant fatalities per million people in 2004: 108.43
Vehicle occupant fatalities per million people in 2014: 66.17
A decrease of 39%

An individual risk in 2004 would be 0.0108%
An individual risk in 2014 would be 0.0066%
So the difference in risk would be .0042%

Your family risk would be this amount times the number of family members.  My family has 4 people.
.0042 * 4 = 0.0168%

And this is the yearly risk.  If we keep the car for 10 years, multiply by 10.
0.168%

Now if I value the life of myself, my spouse or my child at $6 million...
$6,000,000 * 0.168% = $10,080.  And that only considers fatalities.  Include horrible injuries and the number goes up.  Kick the risk down for using seatbelts and you're still looking at $5,040 for the expected value.

If it's just you alone cruising around in the car maybe it doesn't make financial sense to spring for the safety upgrades.  If you regularly carry other passengers the equation quickly changes.

Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: TheLazyMan on March 15, 2016, 12:00:17 PM
You're the one that disputed it!!!

Really? Quote the post where I denied that "ESC led to a 33% reduction in fatal crashes," please.

Quote from: Jack
The difference in overall safety between a 10-year-old car and a brand-new one is very, very small. (And it's absolutely not that "37%" statistic some of you keep throwing around!) That is a statistical fact.

My bad, you were just generally wrong, not quoting ESC specifically.  Considering the person who originally asked the question doesn't have ESC on their vehicles I assumed your comment  was relative to their situation.  My apologies.  However, the overall vehicle occupant fatality rate has dropped 39% over 10 years, so I'm not sure where your statistical facts are originating.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jack on March 15, 2016, 12:06:50 PM
Quote from: Jack
The difference in overall safety between a 10-year-old car and a brand-new one is very, very small.

So the difference in risk would be .0042%

See? WE AGREE!
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jack on March 15, 2016, 12:10:26 PM
Your family risk would be this amount times the number of family members.  My family has 4 people.
.0042 * 4 = 0.0168%

And this is the yearly risk.  If we keep the car for 10 years, multiply by 10.
0.168%

Now if I value the life of myself, my spouse or my child at $6 million...
$6,000,000 * 0.168% = $10,080.  And that only considers fatalities.  Include horrible injuries and the number goes up.  Kick the risk down for using seatbelts and you're still looking at $5,040 for the expected value.

All of these are valid points, IF you actually have four people in the car every time you drive it and IF you actually keep the car for 10 years.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: The Happy Philosopher on March 15, 2016, 12:21:43 PM
I would recommend books by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Antifragile, Black Swan), as he talks extensively about risk, outcomes and probabilities.

If you think like an actuary no insurance is every going to be a rational decision. Safety features are insurance. You have to consider outcomes.

Comparing insurance on an iPhone to purchasing a car with better safety features makes no sense. If you approach risk management with the "iPhone insurance model" you probably wont buy a safer car. 30,000 people don't die every year from losing their iPhone. It is a loss that makes so little difference in your life it's crazy to insure. Insuring your house against fire does make sense, even though it is mathematically a losing proposition in aggregate. There is so much asymmetric downside risk to having your house burn down. A serious car crash is like a house burning down, not losing an iPhone. If the average risk/reward (expected premium to payout ratio) is the same, you buy the home insurance but not the iPhone insurance.

I think if you understand the nature of probabilistic outcomes you buy the safer car.

Ponder this. There is a reason certain safety features are now mandated. They save lives and as a society we feel they are cost effective enough to legislate them. I'm sure those already arguing for saving money at any cost of risk will just dismiss it as too much government regulation, nonsense, etc. Airbags, seat belts and car seats were all considered not worth it at some point.

Do what you want. Live your life how you want, but don't dismiss purchasing additional safety as irrational, because for most people at moderate income levels it is not.

I guess one thing I hadn't considered is that you can value your life higher than the DOT estimate of $6,000,000 or whatever your insurance values you as.  In that case, you could make a rational argument for purchasing insurance or safety features that at first glance would seem wasteful.  Either that, or you can admit you're making an irrational choice and be done with it. 

The question I'd have for the path you suggest, is how much safer of a car should he buy?  There's typically not a "cap" on the amount you can spend on safety, so if we argue that the possible outcomes dictate the spending, we should be willing to spend a near limitless amount on preventing death or disability.  Should he spend $5000 more on a better car?  Why not $10,000, or $20,000, or $50,000?  The reason running the numbers helps is it tells you where to stop.

The vibe I get from most of the people in favor of buying a safer car is that they pick an arbitrary "safe enough" car that is middle of the road in current technology, and say that's the one to pick because it gives them the warm and fuzzies.  This strategy isn't necessarily bad, but it needs to be supported by more than "my cousin got in a bad wreck and would've been fine with side airbags" or "your life is worth more than a few thousand dollars" to convince me it's a rational decision. 

Assuming his current risk of dying in a car crash is .01% per year, and it's reduced by 1/3 to .0067% with these safety features, it means he's reducing his fatality risk by .0033%.  This means if we use the DOT $6 million value for his life, he should reasonably spend $198 ($6 million times .000033) per year for that reduction in risk.  Assuming he keeps the car for 10 years, he should be willing to spend around $1980 for that reduction. 

Adjust the numbers as you see fit for your situation, but you have to be able to quantify it to make a rational choice.  Either that, or as has been suggested multiple times, make the irrational choice because it helps you sleep at night.  That's totally fine, but just admit it for what it is.

I  think we are talking past one another here a bit, and I think the reason is that you are looking at averages, and I'm looking at outcomes. I think you are underestimating the difficulty in making 'rational' decisions when possible outcome range from tiny scratch to life altering disability to death. Maybe it is an irrational choice for your life, but not for me.

Let me ask you this. If there was a loaded gun that had a 0.01% change of shooting you and killing you or your family every year you used your front door, and you could pay 5k to lower that risk by 1/3 would you do it? I sure as hell would, in fact I would probably try to figure out how get in and out of my house a different way most of the time (ie: Not drive in the first place).

I think your question about where to stop is a good one, and worth some thought. For me it is side air bags, ABS, stability control and a car that performs well in crash tests (even though the methodology may be somewhat suspect). The amount of money to get a car that meets these criteria is so small in comparison to the negative effect of spending the money it is a completely rational decision for me. It is cheap insurance for the reduction in mortality and morbidity. Reducing the risk of black swans from my life is what matters at this point, not saving a few hundred dollars a year so I can get a cooler phone. At some point spending money on safety become immeasurable. My guess is there is not any measurable difference in spending 20,000 and 50,000, and therefore 50,000 would be wasteful. This and the extra 30,000 loss would have a negative impact on other areas of my life.

Your example of 200$/yr may be right "on average". Maybe this is rational from a population based policy decision, but clearly the people in the fatal or disabling accidents would have been much better off spending more money, and everyone else would have been better off spending less money. The probable is, you don't know which group you will be in. This is why is is 'rational' to 'overpay' for insurance.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: ooeei on March 15, 2016, 12:49:14 PM
I  think we are talking past one another here a bit, and I think the reason is that you are looking at averages, and I'm looking at outcomes. I think you are underestimating the difficulty in making 'rational' decisions when possible outcome range from tiny scratch to life altering disability to death. Maybe it is an irrational choice for your life, but not for me.

Let me ask you this. If there was a loaded gun that had a 0.01% change of shooting you and killing you or your family every year you used your front door, and you could pay 5k to lower that risk by 1/3 would you do it? I sure as hell would, in fact I would probably try to figure out how get in and out of my house a different way most of the time (ie: Not drive in the first place).

It's tough to imagine a situation where that would be the case.  Most likely I would, but I'd do everything else that was cheaper first.  Driving is very different from a loaded gun.  Driving carefully reduces your risk, driving less reduces your risk, wearing a seatbelt reduces your risk, etc etc.  There are countless other things besides buying safety features that will reduce your risk in a much bigger way for less money.  It's very different than the situation you proposed where the ONLY way to stop it is with money. 

Same question, but now you must pay $20,000 for that reduction in risk.  Would you do it?  $40,000?  $75,000?

Quote
I think your question about where to stop is a good one, and worth some thought. For me it is side air bags, ABS, stability control and a car that performs well in crash tests (even though the methodology may be somewhat suspect). The amount of money to get a car that meets these criteria is so small in comparison to the negative effect of spending the money it is a completely rational decision for me.

How small is it relative to the benefit you receive?  You say it's so small it's worth it, but do you know the actual cost and benefit, or is this just your gut feeling?

Quote
It is cheap insurance for the reduction in mortality and morbidity. Reducing the risk of black swans from my life is what matters at this point, not saving a few hundred dollars a year so I can get a cooler phone.

How about if it was saving an extra few thousand a year, and it allowed you to FIRE a year earlier than you otherwise would've, thus getting rid of those risks a year sooner?  What if it allowed you to move to a job closer to home that requires less commuting, or allowed you to work fewer hours and spend more time with your kids?  Money is limited, what is used on one thing can't be used on another.  Most people on this forum aren't saving their money to buy new phones.

Quote
At some point spending money on safety become immeasurable. My guess is there is not any measurable difference in spending 20,000 and 50,000, and therefore 50,000 would be wasteful. This and the extra 30,000 loss would have a negative impact on other areas of my life.

Your guess, so basically you have no information to support it.  I'm fairly certain car companies could design a safer car if you gave them an extra $30,000 budget and told them that's what you wanted.  In any case, my example was meant to show an extreme, and that there IS a point where $ wins out over safety.  Where that line is depends on your personal value of safety.  If you value your life at a figure >$6,000,000, adjust your figures accordingly. 

Quote
Your example of 200$/yr may be right "on average". Maybe this is rational from a population based policy decision, but clearly the people in the fatal or disabling accidents would have been much better off spending more money, and everyone else would have been better off spending less money. The probable is, you don't know which group you will be in. This is why is is 'rational' to 'overpay' for insurance.

It's rational if you value a feeling of security over optimization, yes.  But by that logic it's also "rational" to buy a brand new car every year that is at the top of the safety rankings, as safety is generally improved every year.  This year's top rated sedan is the Volvo S60 T5 according to KBB, and costs ~$30,000.


I think it's very interesting where our society chooses to put their fears.  The government mandates safety features, people go bonkers for them, and yet it's very normal in many places to commute 30+ miles to work every day.  I've never talked to anyone in the real world who thinks through the danger of driving when buying a house.  Yet cutting your distance to work in half, cuts your risk of dying in a car in half (generally).  That shows how insignificant that risk is to the average person.  Yet mention a safety upgrade that reduces their chances of dying in a crash by 12%, and they go nuts for it.  Is it a coincidence that these upgrades are tied to selling them stuff?  I haven't ever seen a government PSA about living close to work for safety reasons, why is that?
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: tobitonic on March 15, 2016, 03:18:45 PM
How does doing something for FREE that reduces probability in the future of you spending money, irrational?

Because rationality is not exclusively tied to the probability of whether something costs money or not. This is precisely what makes your argument cherrypicking (and hypocritcal); you're choosing a value that's important to you (i.e., not spending money on car safety features) and holding it as the standard for everyone else. But it isn't. It's just your personal value system (i.e., something subjective) that you're attempting to portray as something objective (i.e., rationality).
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: tobitonic on March 15, 2016, 03:24:26 PM
It's rational if you value a feeling of security over optimization, yes. 

Once again, if you're wearing a seat belt, you're already choosing a feeling of security over optimization (of time), which by your definition, is irrational. It would be much faster to simply enter your car and start it, wouldn't it? Think of all the minutes you'd save each week! But perhaps you were talking about optimization of money. In that case, the most optimal thing to do, car-wise, would be not to own a car and walk everywhere (no, not even bike; that costs money in purchase and/or maintenance costs). So unless you're walking everywhere, 100% of the time, you're once again choosing something else over optimization. It doesn't matter whether you're driving to save time, for security, for pleasure, or any other reason--you're still being irrational.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jack on March 15, 2016, 03:40:39 PM
How does doing something for FREE that reduces probability in the future of you spending money, irrational?

Because rationality is not exclusively tied to the probability of whether something costs money or not. This is precisely what makes your argument cherrypicking (and hypocritcal); you're choosing a value that's important to you (i.e., not spending money on car safety features) and holding it as the standard for everyone else. But it isn't. It's just your personal value system (i.e., something subjective) that you're attempting to portray as something objective (i.e., rationality).

If money isn't a proxy for value, what is?

It's rational if you value a feeling of security over optimization, yes. 

Once again, if you're wearing a seat belt, you're already choosing a feeling of security over optimization (of time), which by your definition, is irrational. It would be much faster to simply enter your car and start it, wouldn't it? Think of all the minutes you'd save each week! But perhaps you were talking about optimization of money. In that case, the most optimal thing to do, car-wise, would be not to own a car and walk everywhere (no, not even bike; that costs money in purchase and/or maintenance costs). So unless you're walking everywhere, 100% of the time, you're once again choosing something else over optimization. It doesn't matter whether you're driving to save time, for security, for pleasure, or any other reason--you're still being irrational.

This is several kinds of fallacious:

1. You paint the decision as being all-or-nothing when the entire point is to carefully quantify the benefit and act accordingly. The time it takes to buckle a seat belt is sufficiently small as to make it worth it. It does not have to be zero! The benefit of having a car is sufficiently large as to make it worth driving in some cases, even if the cost is large enough to outweigh that benefit in other cases.

2. That kind of consideration is exactly the opposite of the bullshit absolutism you're trying to pretend ooeei and I have arguing for. That makes your statement a red herring fallacy too.

Optimization, by definition, means considering all factors against each other. What part of that don't you understand?!
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: The Happy Philosopher on March 15, 2016, 03:41:12 PM
ooeii:

It is clear you do not agree with me nor do you see the point I am making (but failing). That is fine. There is probably nothing more I can say to convince you. I think your analysis is flawed and you are looking at risk in a way that I do not. I think my approach is rational, pragmatic and supported by data. It seems many agree with me.

A few things to consider:

1. In the instant before your death money has no value, and time has near infinite value.
2. If driving a less safe car somehow lowers risk in other ways (causes you to drive less, slower, etc.) then one has to take that into account. I agree with you on this point. This seems like a quite rare event to me. I drive when necessary and the quality of my car has little influence on this.
3. There is no 'safety feature' more effective than decreasing total transportation miles. I also agree. But this does not invalidate my points.
4. The loaded gun scenario was an intentionally ridiculous thought experiment to try and get you to understand asymmetric risk. Buying a safety upgrade, or buying a lower probability of a catastrophic outcome has a fixed downside (cost of the upgrade) but unlimited upside (avoidance of death). Yes, at some point it becomes silly, but probably further down the cost/mortality reduction curve than you think.
5. In my experience people that don't think paying for insurance or safety features are worth it do not appreciate the randomness of accidents. They feel they have more control than they do. This is not to say we can't mitigate some risk by behavior, but remember - most people think they are above average drivers...maybe you really are one of them ;)
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jack on March 15, 2016, 03:52:11 PM
A few things to consider:

1. In the instant before your death money has no value, and time has near infinite value.

True, but irrelevant. If you think it makes sense to behave as if it's the instant before your death, then you should have as much fun as possible, as fast as possible, until you go broke.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: tobitonic on March 15, 2016, 06:55:17 PM
How does doing something for FREE that reduces probability in the future of you spending money, irrational?

Because rationality is not exclusively tied to the probability of whether something costs money or not. This is precisely what makes your argument cherrypicking (and hypocritcal); you're choosing a value that's important to you (i.e., not spending money on car safety features) and holding it as the standard for everyone else. But it isn't. It's just your personal value system (i.e., something subjective) that you're attempting to portray as something objective (i.e., rationality).

If money isn't a proxy for value, what is?

Being alive, for one. Being alive and not permanently disabled, for another. There are an infinite number of things that can be described as valuable; it depends completely on the person, which is why this entire argument is a subjective, and not an objective one, and why it's silly to go around calling people irrational for not agreeing with other people's values.

Quote from: Jack
It's rational if you value a feeling of security over optimization, yes. 

Once again, if you're wearing a seat belt, you're already choosing a feeling of security over optimization (of time), which by your definition, is irrational. It would be much faster to simply enter your car and start it, wouldn't it? Think of all the minutes you'd save each week! But perhaps you were talking about optimization of money. In that case, the most optimal thing to do, car-wise, would be not to own a car and walk everywhere (no, not even bike; that costs money in purchase and/or maintenance costs). So unless you're walking everywhere, 100% of the time, you're once again choosing something else over optimization. It doesn't matter whether you're driving to save time, for security, for pleasure, or any other reason--you're still being irrational.

This is several kinds of fallacious:

1. You paint the decision as being all-or-nothing when the entire point is to carefully quantify the benefit and act accordingly. The time it takes to buckle a seat belt is sufficiently small as to make it worth it. It does not have to be zero! The benefit of having a car is sufficiently large as to make it worth driving in some cases, even if the cost is large enough to outweigh that benefit in other cases.


Nope. That's you using your personal benchmarks for what's "sufficiently small" and "sufficiently large." Your values are subjective, no matter how hard you try to make them seem objective. There isn't an objective way to "quantify the benefit"; that's subjectivity, 100% (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subjectivity).

Quote
Optimization, by definition, means considering all factors against each other. What part of that don't you understand?!

Nah, you're wrong here too. To optimize something means to make it as good or effective as possible, per the dictionary (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/optimize).

What you're doing is rationalization (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rationalize). You're trying to justify your subjective value system as an objective one. But it's not.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: ooeei on March 16, 2016, 06:35:46 AM
ooeii:

It is clear you do not agree with me nor do you see the point I am making (but failing). That is fine. There is probably nothing more I can say to convince you. I think your analysis is flawed and you are looking at risk in a way that I do not. I think my approach is rational, pragmatic and supported by data. It seems many agree with me.

A few things to consider:

1. In the instant before your death money has no value, and time has near infinite value.
2. If driving a less safe car somehow lowers risk in other ways (causes you to drive less, slower, etc.) then one has to take that into account. I agree with you on this point. This seems like a quite rare event to me. I drive when necessary and the quality of my car has little influence on this.
3. There is no 'safety feature' more effective than decreasing total transportation miles. I also agree. But this does not invalidate my points.
4. The loaded gun scenario was an intentionally ridiculous thought experiment to try and get you to understand asymmetric risk. Buying a safety upgrade, or buying a lower probability of a catastrophic outcome has a fixed downside (cost of the upgrade) but unlimited upside (avoidance of death). Yes, at some point it becomes silly, but probably further down the cost/mortality reduction curve than you think.
5. In my experience people that don't think paying for insurance or safety features are worth it do not appreciate the randomness of accidents. They feel they have more control than they do. This is not to say we can't mitigate some risk by behavior, but remember - most people think they are above average drivers...maybe you really are one of them ;)

I don't think you're understanding me either.  I'm perfectly fine with your point and your decision, I fully support it!  I also support looking at it in a pragmatic way with an eye on optimizing the cost/benefit ratio.  You simply give it a larger benefit than I or the DOT do, and are willing to pay more for that benefit.  You also seem to be saying that since death is such a big deal there should be no limit what we do to prevent it, then you pick an arbitrary limit with some safety features you like, you say at a point it becomes silly but don't quantify at what point.  That's a perfectly fine choice to make, but not particularly analytical.  Luckily for you we don't have to analyze and MONETARILY (I went ahead and added the word to clarify it for other posters who may get confused) optimize every decision.

It's rational if you value a feeling of security over optimization, yes. 

Once again, if you're wearing a seat belt, you're already choosing a feeling of security over optimization (of time), which by your definition, is irrational. It would be much faster to simply enter your car and start it, wouldn't it? Think of all the minutes you'd save each week! But perhaps you were talking about optimization of money. In that case, the most optimal thing to do, car-wise, would be not to own a car and walk everywhere (no, not even bike; that costs money in purchase and/or maintenance costs). So unless you're walking everywhere, 100% of the time, you're once again choosing something else over optimization. It doesn't matter whether you're driving to save time, for security, for pleasure, or any other reason--you're still being irrational.

Obviously it depends on your values.  I made the rather bold assumption that someone on this forum is interested in optimizing their spending.  Maybe that's not the case, and you drive around in a new $30,000-$50,000 car every year to make sure you're ahead of the safety curve, and would recommend everyone else do the same.  If you value that marginal increase in safety over the money, that is the rational choice for you to make.  Personally I think there is value in finding the most efficient path with regard to finances, as well as time and safety.  The OP mentioned the "safety being an expensive illusion" article (note the word "expensive"). When I posted some statistics very early in this thread, the OP said that's the kind of info he was looking for, so I continued with the analysis.  Perhaps I should've just said "IT'S YOUR LIFE, SPEND AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE TO GET THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF SAFETY YOU FOOL!" instead.

If I literally sat still and spent a significant amount of time buckling my seatbelt and could make money or do something productive instead it might make sense not to wear it.  As is I don't get paid for being 2 seconds early to work.  For me putting on a seatbelt is done while I'm doing other things, like turning on the ignition or shifting into reverse/drive.  The marginal cost is simply the amount of calories it takes me to make the movement, which is not something I'm concerned with conserving at all, as there are plenty of other ways I could do it more effectively.


How does doing something for FREE that reduces probability in the future of you spending money, irrational?

Because rationality is not exclusively tied to the probability of whether something costs money or not. This is precisely what makes your argument cherrypicking (and hypocritcal); you're choosing a value that's important to you (i.e., not spending money on car safety features) and holding it as the standard for everyone else. But it isn't. It's just your personal value system (i.e., something subjective) that you're attempting to portray as something objective (i.e., rationality).

If money isn't a proxy for value, what is?

Being alive, for one. Being alive and not permanently disabled, for another. There are an infinite number of things that can be described as valuable; it depends completely on the person, which is why this entire argument is a subjective, and not an objective one, and why it's silly to go around calling people irrational for not agreeing with other people's values.

Quote from: Jack
It's rational if you value a feeling of security over optimization, yes. 

Once again, if you're wearing a seat belt, you're already choosing a feeling of security over optimization (of time), which by your definition, is irrational. It would be much faster to simply enter your car and start it, wouldn't it? Think of all the minutes you'd save each week! But perhaps you were talking about optimization of money. In that case, the most optimal thing to do, car-wise, would be not to own a car and walk everywhere (no, not even bike; that costs money in purchase and/or maintenance costs). So unless you're walking everywhere, 100% of the time, you're once again choosing something else over optimization. It doesn't matter whether you're driving to save time, for security, for pleasure, or any other reason--you're still being irrational.

This is several kinds of fallacious:

1. You paint the decision as being all-or-nothing when the entire point is to carefully quantify the benefit and act accordingly. The time it takes to buckle a seat belt is sufficiently small as to make it worth it. It does not have to be zero! The benefit of having a car is sufficiently large as to make it worth driving in some cases, even if the cost is large enough to outweigh that benefit in other cases.


Nope. That's you using your personal benchmarks for what's "sufficiently small" and "sufficiently large." Your values are subjective, no matter how hard you try to make them seem objective. There isn't an objective way to "quantify the benefit"; that's subjectivity, 100% (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subjectivity).

Quote
Optimization, by definition, means considering all factors against each other. What part of that don't you understand?!

Nah, you're wrong here too. To optimize something means to make it as good or effective as possible, per the dictionary (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/optimize).

What you're doing is rationalization (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rationalize). You're trying to justify your subjective value system as an objective one. But it's not.

Dude, we get it.  You could make a rational argument for driving a tank if you had a super high value of safety over cost.  You could also make an argument for never leaving your home and covering your home in nerf foam.  The big crazy assumption we made was that the idea was to optimize the cost/benefit ratio, as that's what the OP implied he wanted to see.  If all you want to do is say "follow your heart" I'm not sure how that helps anyone.

Congratulations, you win.  We could all make an argument for whatever we want to.  I can rationally choose to drive 200mph through a city on a motorcycle if I value adrenaline over safety.  We assumed OP wanted to see the monetary cost vs benefit of having a few safety features, and ran some appropriate numbers.  Depending on his/your personal assumptions a few of the numbers may change, but the methodology is pretty darn close for the stated goal.  If you want to get into a big philosophical discussion about how you could have different assumptions behind the analysis then that's fine, but I don't care to be involved in it.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: TheLazyMan on March 16, 2016, 10:20:46 AM
Here's an interesting metric.

Occupant deaths per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old
2004: 114 per million
2014: 44 per million

That's a decrease of 61%!!

Cars went from 114 to 53, a drop of 53%
Pickups went from 145 to 47, a drop of 68%
SUVs went from 103 to 24, a drop of 77%

Late model vehicles are vastly safer than they were in 2004.

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/passenger-vehicles/2014
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: JLee on March 16, 2016, 10:28:41 AM
Here's an interesting metric.

Occupant deaths per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old
2004: 114 per million
2014: 44 per million

That's a decrease of 61%!!

Cars went from 114 to 53, a drop of 53%
Pickups went from 145 to 47, a drop of 68%
SUVs went from 103 to 24, a drop of 77%

Late model vehicles are vastly safer than they were in 2004.

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/passenger-vehicles/2014

It may also be due to younger/newer drivers driving older vehicles.  I'd be curious to have an age/gender breakdown added to that mix.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: TheLazyMan on March 16, 2016, 10:30:24 AM
Here's an interesting metric.

Occupant deaths per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old
2004: 114 per million
2014: 44 per million

That's a decrease of 61%!!

Cars went from 114 to 53, a drop of 53%
Pickups went from 145 to 47, a drop of 68%
SUVs went from 103 to 24, a drop of 77%

Late model vehicles are vastly safer than they were in 2004.

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/passenger-vehicles/2014

It may also be due to younger/newer drivers driving older vehicles.  I'd be curious to have an age/gender breakdown added to that mix.

This is comparing the rate for new vehicles in 2004 to the new vehicles today.  Unless there were more young drivers in new vehicles in 2004 than there are now age shouldn't matter.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: ketchup on March 16, 2016, 10:39:17 AM
Here's an interesting metric.

Occupant deaths per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old
2004: 114 per million
2014: 44 per million

That's a decrease of 61%!!

Cars went from 114 to 53, a drop of 53%
Pickups went from 145 to 47, a drop of 68%
SUVs went from 103 to 24, a drop of 77%

Late model vehicles are vastly safer than they were in 2004.

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/passenger-vehicles/2014
Numbers taking into account miles driven (instead of number of vehicles) would be more useful I'd think.  Is that available?
Here's an interesting metric.

Occupant deaths per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old
2004: 114 per million
2014: 44 per million

That's a decrease of 61%!!

Cars went from 114 to 53, a drop of 53%
Pickups went from 145 to 47, a drop of 68%
SUVs went from 103 to 24, a drop of 77%

Late model vehicles are vastly safer than they were in 2004.

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/passenger-vehicles/2014

It may also be due to younger/newer drivers driving older vehicles.  I'd be curious to have an age/gender breakdown added to that mix.
This is also true.  As "older" cars have become well, newer, and gradually more reliable and longer-lasting, that means fewer younger (and less experienced) people bothering to get newer cars, theoretically.  Also, "the economy and stuff" doing the same.  It's tricky to really make an apple to apples comparison.

I'm not saying the number is wrong, but perhaps overstated.  Too many variables to be conclusive.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: TheLazyMan on March 16, 2016, 11:00:08 AM
Numbers taking into account miles driven (instead of number of vehicles) would be more useful I'd think.  Is that available?

Not that I'm aware of.

This is also true.  As "older" cars have become well, newer, and gradually more reliable and longer-lasting, that means fewer younger (and less experienced) people bothering to get newer cars, theoretically.  Also, "the economy and stuff" doing the same.  It's tricky to really make an apple to apples comparison.

I'm not saying the number is wrong, but perhaps overstated.  Too many variables to be conclusive.

Maybe.  Though the numbers have been on a basically steady march downward since 1979, if there is an effect from the latest or earlier recessions it's not vastly apparent in the data. 

Vehicle miles per capita did decrease about 6-7% during that time so could account for some of the effect.
http://www.ssti.us/2014/02/vmt-drops-ninth-year-dots-taking-notice/

Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Guses on March 16, 2016, 11:07:01 AM
Cut your driving distance in half -> Cut your risk of dying in half.

Cost: 0$, It will even SAVE you money!

I think that it is ridiculous to justify buying a slightly newer car saying it is safer when the very obvious choice for reducing risk is to drive less.

If you have a lower tolerance for risk related to driving, arrange your life so you don't have to drive as much. Win-Win.

If you disagree and want to drive the same amount regardless, you have accepted the inherent risks related to driving. I don't think a minuscule improvement in "safety" is worth several thousand dollars.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: TheLazyMan on March 16, 2016, 11:11:05 AM
I did find some data by age group, but it includes all cars not just new cars.

Passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes per 100,000 people by age group

Ages 16-19 went from 34.7 to 15.5 (55% decrease)
Ages 20-34 went from 26.9 to 18.3 (32% decrease)
Ages 35-69 went from 16.4 to 11.6 (29% decrease)
Ages 70+ went from 16.9 to 12 (29% decrease)

So there's been a decrease among all age groups.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: tobitonic on March 16, 2016, 03:15:40 PM
It's rational if you value a feeling of security over optimization, yes. 

Once again, if you're wearing a seat belt, you're already choosing a feeling of security over optimization (of time), which by your definition, is irrational. It would be much faster to simply enter your car and start it, wouldn't it? Think of all the minutes you'd save each week! But perhaps you were talking about optimization of money. In that case, the most optimal thing to do, car-wise, would be not to own a car and walk everywhere (no, not even bike; that costs money in purchase and/or maintenance costs). So unless you're walking everywhere, 100% of the time, you're once again choosing something else over optimization. It doesn't matter whether you're driving to save time, for security, for pleasure, or any other reason--you're still being irrational.

Obviously it depends on your values.

Bingo! And as a result, there isn't an objective benchmark for rationality here. This is pretty much what most people who've been arguing for spending a few grand extra for ESC and side airbags have been saying over and over again. This entire discussion does not depend on "rationality" or "irrationality." It completely depends on your personal value system.

Quote
The big crazy assumption we made was that the idea was to optimize the cost/benefit ratio, as that's what the OP implied he wanted to see. 

The problem with your big crazy assumption is that you're still making a lot of subjective assumptions, including the big one that it's not worth making any vehicular changes because that would require spending money, hence the monolithic focus on driver variables rather than on vehicle variables. That's not rational thinking; that's just good old fashioned rationalization that your personal, subjective value system is the most optimal and rational point for everyone. But it isn't.

As an aside, the OP hasn't been back to this thread since I pointed out on page one that s/he clearly agreed that safety upgrades were valuable, but didn't want to spend money on them.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Stachetastic on March 16, 2016, 06:53:53 PM
As an aside, the OP hasn't been back to this thread since I pointed out on page one that s/he clearly agreed that safety upgrades were valuable, but didn't want to spend money on them.

I'm still here! I've been keeping up with all the responses, and I have appreciated every one of them. Obviously this is proving to be a very divisive topic.

You've definitely got me on one thing here. I don't enjoy spending money. That's a big reason why I like this community so much. Spending/upgrading/rewarding are not the default modes around these parts, unlike in most of my life with family, friends, and coworkers. I like questioning whether or not spending my money is the best use of my resources. And there are times, like this, that I like to see how others feel about the same topic. So you're right-- I don't WANT to spend my money on upgrading safety features. But having read through every response, I definitely find that it is something that is important to me and that I will be doing in the near future.

And I fully accept that to some mustachians, this is a completely irrational response. And I'm okay with that.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Daleth on March 16, 2016, 09:29:15 PM
Sure, everyone could drive around in $200,000 tanks and be safe from crashes, but at some point the cost outweighs the benefit, even if it's human life.  If every car in the US cost $200,000 and prevented every single death in vehicle crashes (which it still probably wouldn't), that would cost an extra 253 million x $180,000 (I'm assuming a current car costs $20k).  That's an extra $45 trillion dollars in car costs, to save 33,000 lives per year. That's a value of a little over a billion dollars per life.

My point here isn't that money is worth more than people.  The point is, you can add safety to anything if money is no object, but eventually it doesn't make sense.

Sure, but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about whether it makes sense to spend only $5000-$10,000 to reduce your risk of death and disability by something on the order of 30%-50%.

And nobody has mentioned what the numbers are on lesser degrees of serious injury. Would I spend $5k or $10k to avoid breaking several bones and spending, say, 3 weeks in the hospital and another 8 weeks recuperating? HELL YES I would! I have a life--a good marriage, kids to take care of, friends and family, things I enjoy doing, a job, etc. I would gladly spend that kind of money not to spend 2-3 months in pain, unable to do the things I enjoy, unable to take care of my kids, unable to work, etc. And when you factor in that the same $5-$10k could also spare any or all of my immediate family members the same unpleasant fate, I'm like, "Five or ten grand?! Hell yes! Sign us up!"

Even looking solely at the prospect of not being able to work for a couple of months, and even factoring in that unlike many people I have good disability insurance provided for free by my job (6 weeks at 100%, the rest starting at 80% and decreasing to 60%), being unable to work for 3 months would actually come out costing several grand in lost salary alone, not to mention the possible cost of hiring someone to help with the things I normally do around the house and/or having to spend a lot more on food (having restaurant food delivered, etc.) in order to spare my husband the stress of having to do twice as much housework/cooking/childcare on top of working, visiting me in the hospital, taking care of me at home, etc.

And remember your copay for the hospital stay! If you're an American with a high-deductible health plan, as many Mustachians (including me) are, not spending a couple of weeks in the hospital will pay for your massive safety increase (from 2004 Corolla to 2008-11 Subaru) right there.

We're not talking about $200k tanks. We're talking about $5-$10k.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Daleth on March 16, 2016, 09:45:22 PM
Same question, but now you must pay $20,000 for that reduction in risk.  Would you do it?  $40,000?  $75,000?


Again... that's not what we're talking about. Getting a car that is significantly safer than the average 2004 car does not require anyone to spend $20k, $40k or $75k. You can get a used 2008-2011 car with safety features that 2004 cars didn't have, as well as top crash test results, for under $10k.

And even if you WANTED to spend an extra $20-$75k on your car, it wouldn't get you increased safety over, say, a $10k 2010 Subaru Outback, since there aren't any more safety features on a $100k Mercedes or any new car of any model than there are on the 2010 Outback. There haven't been any significant new safety features since then; all that's happened between, say, a 2008-11 car and a 2016 one is that more models now come with convenience features like MP3 players, built-in GPS, hybrid engines, etc.

Long story short, your argument is a total red herring. Not only is it not what we're talking about, it's not even possible to spend that much money just to get increased safety. If you spend your hypothetical extra $20k-$75k, you're also getting a bunch of bells and whistles such as a new car, a high-end brand, a V8 engine, heated leather seats, a Bose sound system, a moon roof, locks that recognize your fingerprints, and a ton of other crap that has nothing to do with safety.


Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: ooeei on March 17, 2016, 06:54:55 AM
Bingo! And as a result, there isn't an objective benchmark for rationality here. This is pretty much what most people who've been arguing for spending a few grand extra for ESC and side airbags have been saying over and over again. This entire discussion does not depend on "rationality" or "irrationality." It completely depends on your personal value system.

All right, I'll change my response to OP then.  OP, do whatever feels right.  There's no possible way to make a rational choice here, because everyone is a snowflake and no two people are alike. Danger is scary, so spend money to avoid it.  I have no idea how much you should spend, just feel it out.  Have you been to a hospital lately?  Scary stuff. 

Quote
The problem with your big crazy assumption is that you're still making a lot of subjective assumptions, including the big one that it's not worth making any vehicular changes because that would require spending money, hence the monolithic focus on driver variables rather than on vehicle variables. That's not rational thinking; that's just good old fashioned rationalization that your personal, subjective value system is the most optimal and rational point for everyone. But it isn't.

As an aside, the OP hasn't been back to this thread since I pointed out on page one that s/he clearly agreed that safety upgrades were valuable, but didn't want to spend money on them.

The assumption was that the benefit should outweigh the cost.  Maybe you don't care about that, I figured OP did.  We used the DOT "value of human life" as the benchmark, and pointed out that the OP could change the numbers if he felt the assumptions were different (it sounds like your numbers are different, so change them).  If you are concerned with the cost/benefit ratio, which it appears the OP is, it's irrational to choose safety features not based on an effective cost/benefit ratio.  I suppose I should have qualified "rational" with "is rational for someone who is interested in optimizing their cost/benefit ratio", but I assumed it was implied.  Oh well. 

Sure, but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about whether it makes sense to spend only $5000-$10,000 to reduce your risk of death and disability by something on the order of 30%-50%.

As has been discussed many many times, it is not a reduction of your risk of death by 30-50%.  It is a reduction of your risk of death by .003-.005%.  It only reduces your risk IF you are in a fatal car wreck, which is an extremely unlikely event.  Someone without those features has a .010% chance of dying in a car wreck this year.  Someone with those features has a .007% chance.

My example was meant to show that you are not choosing based on the math and numbers, but on gut feeling.  You still haven't given me a cutoff where it's worth it, and a justification for it.  If you don't look at the rate of occurrence, it's ALWAYS going to make sense to spend more money on safety.  For some weird reason you decided $5,000-$10,000 makes sense and $20,000-30,000 doesn't, but you can't seem to explain why. 

Maybe Delta has safer airplanes than United, but tickets cost twice as much.  Should you fly Delta because the consequences of dying in a plane crash are terrible?  Probably not, because it's such a low risk activity the risk is still basically 0.

Quote
And nobody has mentioned what the numbers are on lesser degrees of serious injury. Would I spend $5k or $10k to avoid breaking several bones and spending, say, 3 weeks in the hospital and another 8 weeks recuperating? HELL YES I would! I have a life--a good marriage, kids to take care of, friends and family, things I enjoy doing, a job, etc. I would gladly spend that kind of money not to spend 2-3 months in pain, unable to do the things I enjoy, unable to take care of my kids, unable to work, etc. And when you factor in that the same $5-$10k could also spare any or all of my immediate family members the same unpleasant fate, I'm like, "Five or ten grand?! Hell yes! Sign us up!"

Even looking solely at the prospect of not being able to work for a couple of months, and even factoring in that unlike many people I have good disability insurance provided for free by my job (6 weeks at 100%, the rest starting at 80% and decreasing to 60%), being unable to work for 3 months would actually come out costing several grand in lost salary alone, not to mention the possible cost of hiring someone to help with the things I normally do around the house and/or having to spend a lot more on food (having restaurant food delivered, etc.) in order to spare my husband the stress of having to do twice as much housework/cooking/childcare on top of working, visiting me in the hospital, taking care of me at home, etc.

And remember your copay for the hospital stay! If you're an American with a high-deductible health plan, as many Mustachians (including me) are, not spending a couple of weeks in the hospital will pay for your massive safety increase (from 2004 Corolla to 2008-11 Subaru) right there.

We're not talking about $200k tanks. We're talking about $5-$10k.

Plenty of people mentioned injuries and disabilities earlier in the thread.  We get it, bad things happen. 

Maybe reading the article the OP mentioned: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/06/07/safety-is-an-expensive-illusion/ will be a good exercise here.  It turns out MMM made the EXACT SAME decision we are!  He used gas prices instead of purchase prices, to justify driving his Scion instead of a Tahoe which reduces his risk of death in a car crash by 37%, almost EXACTLY the reduction we're talking about.  Sure, he's not the authority on everything/anything, but good lord you're 99.99% likely to survive driving the old car, and 99.993% likely to survive with the new one.  Do you buy the antibacterial soap with 99.993% germ killing power instead of 99.99% germ killing power, or do you not even look at such a small number like everybody else? Disclaimer:  I don't buy antibacterial soap, but as I'm finding out in this thread I'm quite the risk-taker.

It says something about our extreme levels of safety we have when everyone's up in arms about something that requires rounding to 3 decimal places to even be measured.

Yes, maybe OP decides his numbers are different than what we pointed out, but pretending we're some sort of crazy reckless risk takers for suggesting he not buy the new car is just ridiculous.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: JordanOfGilead on March 17, 2016, 07:10:55 AM
Based on the fact that you do home visits as your job, having a backup camera, even as an after-market add-on, protecting you and kids and pets wherever you are, would be prudent.  Especially in a newer car because the morons who design them have been making them harder and harder to see out of for years.

Given everything you have told us, I’d agree you’d be happier to upgrade your car to newer used car with the features like ABS brakes and add the backup camera.
The reason those "morons" have been "making cars harder and harder to see out of" is directly correlated to improved crash test safety ratings. Thicker a-pillars, higher dash, and higher doors are all design features that help distribute impact around the cabin in an impact, thus protecting occupants as much as possible. Adjusting your mirrors properly can compensate for this to a great degree. I have had two <5 year old cars with "terrible visibility" but was still able to drive with virtually no blind spots thanks to proper mirror adjustment.

There are also studies that show that cars with backup cameras are more likely to back into something than ones without because drivers tend to focus on the camera and don't actually look around the car.

Those things being said, my response to OP is that my daily driven car is a 1991 CRX with no airbags, no power steering, no abs, no back seat, and door-mounted seat belts so my first inclination is to say that spending a lot of money for safety is a waste. I also don't have any kids and would not let them ride in the CRX with me if I did. My wife drives a 98 civic and I have no safety concerns with that car at all.
Given that both of your cars are relatively new, I wouldn't recommend considering a replacement until one of them becomes unreliable.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: neo von retorch on March 17, 2016, 07:17:01 AM
I don't know the math terms, but everyone agrees on the actual statistics. "Deaths reduced by 37%" is the exact same as "Risk reduced by 0.03%" because they are looking at the same numbers in different ways. Buying "excessive" safety based on fear is what's being discussed. Can you afford to spend $5000-10000 right now in your financial journey? Hair on fire? $500,000 in the bank? The risk difference is very small, so you have to make an intelligent decision based on how much this will affect other aspects of your life. Yes, injuries and death suck, but it's really, really unlikely in both the 2004 cars and the 2014 cars. So try not to fixate on that risk because you have better things to do with your life, living your life, carefully allocating your money. But if you have a few hundred thousand in the bank, it's not even slightly unreasonable to just spend the money, because it will likely have almost zero negative impact on your life, but it does make you a little (or some may even argue, a lot) safer just in case.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jack on March 17, 2016, 08:20:05 AM
Sure, but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about whether it makes sense to spend only $5000-$10,000 to reduce your risk of death and disability by something on the order of 30%-50%.

FSM on a pogo stick! You still don't understand probability!

It is 30%-50% conditioned upon an already-rare event, making the total reduction in risk several orders of magnitude lower. Repeating your bullshit has not, does not, and will not EVER make it fucking true!

And nobody has mentioned what the numbers are on lesser degrees of serious injury. Would I spend $5k or $10k to avoid breaking several bones and spending, say, 3 weeks in the hospital and another 8 weeks recuperating? HELL YES I would!

No shit, Sherlock! So would everybody else, solely because of disingenuous way you framed the question! It's yet another red herring: you say "avoid" as if it's guaranteed that both (a) the undesirable event is guaranteed, and (b) the avoidance of said event will be successful. But neither of those things are true.

Would you still spend $5k or $10K to reduce the chance by 1%? By 0.01%? By 0.000001%? By 0.0000000000000000000001%? Where does it end? How small would the reduction have to be for it to be no longer worth it to you?!
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: JLee on March 17, 2016, 08:45:52 AM
Same question, but now you must pay $20,000 for that reduction in risk.  Would you do it?  $40,000?  $75,000?


Again... that's not what we're talking about. Getting a car that is significantly safer than the average 2004 car does not require anyone to spend $20k, $40k or $75k. You can get a used 2008-2011 car with safety features that 2004 cars didn't have, as well as top crash test results, for under $10k.

And even if you WANTED to spend an extra $20-$75k on your car, it wouldn't get you increased safety over, say, a $10k 2010 Subaru Outback, since there aren't any more safety features on a $100k Mercedes or any new car of any model than there are on the 2010 Outback. There haven't been any significant new safety features since then; all that's happened between, say, a 2008-11 car and a 2016 one is that more models now come with convenience features like MP3 players, built-in GPS, hybrid engines, etc.

Long story short, your argument is a total red herring. Not only is it not what we're talking about, it's not even possible to spend that much money just to get increased safety. If you spend your hypothetical extra $20k-$75k, you're also getting a bunch of bells and whistles such as a new car, a high-end brand, a V8 engine, heated leather seats, a Bose sound system, a moon roof, locks that recognize your fingerprints, and a ton of other crap that has nothing to do with safety.

Collision avoidance systems.

Side note, I have a turbocharged engine, heated leather seats, a Bose sound system, a moon roof, AWD, and HIDs (not to mention stability/traction control and side curtain airbags) on a car that I bought for $6k. That doesn't have to be expensive either. :P
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: dess1313 on March 17, 2016, 09:09:28 AM
Sure, everyone could drive around in $200,000 tanks and be safe from crashes, but at some point the cost outweighs the benefit, even if it's human life.  If every car in the US cost $200,000 and prevented every single death in vehicle crashes (which it still probably wouldn't), that would cost an extra 253 million x $180,000 (I'm assuming a current car costs $20k).  That's an extra $45 trillion dollars in car costs, to save 33,000 lives per year. That's a value of a little over a billion dollars per life.

My point here isn't that money is worth more than people.  The point is, you can add safety to anything if money is no object, but eventually it doesn't make sense.

Sure, but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about whether it makes sense to spend only $5000-$10,000 to reduce your risk of death and disability by something on the order of 30%-50%.

And nobody has mentioned what the numbers are on lesser degrees of serious injury. Would I spend $5k or $10k to avoid breaking several bones and spending, say, 3 weeks in the hospital and another 8 weeks recuperating? HELL YES I would! I have a life--a good marriage, kids to take care of, friends and family, things I enjoy doing, a job, etc. I would gladly spend that kind of money not to spend 2-3 months in pain, unable to do the things I enjoy, unable to take care of my kids, unable to work, etc. And when you factor in that the same $5-$10k could also spare any or all of my immediate family members the same unpleasant fate, I'm like, "Five or ten grand?! Hell yes! Sign us up!"

Even looking solely at the prospect of not being able to work for a couple of months, and even factoring in that unlike many people I have good disability insurance provided for free by my job (6 weeks at 100%, the rest starting at 80% and decreasing to 60%), being unable to work for 3 months would actually come out costing several grand in lost salary alone, not to mention the possible cost of hiring someone to help with the things I normally do around the house and/or having to spend a lot more on food (having restaurant food delivered, etc.) in order to spare my husband the stress of having to do twice as much housework/cooking/childcare on top of working, visiting me in the hospital, taking care of me at home, etc.

And remember your copay for the hospital stay! If you're an American with a high-deductible health plan, as many Mustachians (including me) are, not spending a couple of weeks in the hospital will pay for your massive safety increase (from 2004 Corolla to 2008-11 Subaru) right there.

We're not talking about $200k tanks. We're talking about $5-$10k.

^^^^This.  All of this!!!

Not all of us are able to drive as little as MMM does. he's done a risk assessment based on his driving habits. I still have to drive 4+ days a week and about 20,000+kms a year.  I'm saving like hell but it will be a while before i can retire due to pension setup.  I have a lot of years of risk ahead of me because of that.  some may not. 

I never in any of my posts mentioned driving tanks, but i have mentioned choosing cars that rate high on the IIHS safety ratings.  Choosing between car A and car B, there might be a big difference in crash ratings, or safety features depending on what year it is and what model of car it was. 


one day these will be standard features on many vehicles and could save many lives and prevent many injuries. Eventually it filter down to more consumers at a lower price. i look forward to seeing less trauma in my hospital.  Yes the % rate of crashes is low, but it still happens every day to someone out there.
http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/crash-avoidance-technologies/qanda (http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/crash-avoidance-technologies/qanda)

6. If the new technologies work as intended, how many crashes could they potentially prevent or mitigate?

If all passenger vehicles were equipped with forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot detection and adaptive headlights, about 1 in 3 fatal crashes and 1 in 5 injury crashes could potentially be prevented or mitigated. 11 Those numbers are from an Institute analysis of 2004-2008 crash data and represent the best-case scenario, presuming the systems perform as advertised and drivers respond to them correctly. They reflect known limitations of crash avoidance systems available at the time of the study. However, they don't take into account potential reductions in effectiveness due to driver interactions with the systems or increased effectiveness due to enhanced system capabilities. Of all four features, current forward collision warning systems have the potential to prevent or mitigate the most crashes, and lane departure warning could come into play in the most fatal crashes.

Another Institute study looked at crash avoidance technologies in large trucks. Based on an analysis of 2004-2008 crashes, it found that blind spot detection, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and ESC together could prevent or mitigate as many as 28 percent of large truck crashes a year, including 1 out of 5 fatal ones. 12 Of the four technologies, blind spot detection is applicable to the largest number of crashes. ESC showed the most potential for fatal crashes, possibly preventing or mitigating 15 percent of fatal large truck crashes each year.

As crash avoidance technologies become increasingly common, more data will be available to determine how effective these systems really are in preventing or mitigating crashes.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: neo von retorch on March 17, 2016, 09:16:28 AM
Clearly it's worth a very large sum of money to move to Massachusetts if you live in South Carolina...
http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/state-by-state-overview

Reduce your risk from 1.65 (per 100 million vehicle miles traveled) to just 0.57! 65% reduction! Much better than 37%. Who wouldn't spend $20,000 to do this?
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: JLee on March 17, 2016, 09:17:18 AM
Clearly it's worth a very large sum of money to move to Massachusetts if you live in South Carolina...
http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/state-by-state-overview

Reduce your risk from 1.65 (per 100 million vehicle miles traveled) to just 0.57! 65% reduction! Much better than 37%. Who wouldn't spend $20,000 to do this?

That's pretty amazing, because MA drivers suck. :P
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: hedgefund10 on March 18, 2016, 08:36:50 PM
No. Everybody has to go sometime.  I felt safer in my 1988 S10 than my 2013 Honda Civic.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Daleth on March 21, 2016, 11:53:42 PM
Sure, but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about whether it makes sense to spend only $5000-$10,000 to reduce your risk of death and disability by something on the order of 30%-50%.

FSM on a pogo stick! You still don't understand probability!

It is 30%-50% conditioned upon an already-rare event, making the total reduction in risk several orders of magnitude lower. Repeating your bullshit has not, does not, and will not EVER make it fucking true!

Swearing does not make your point more convincing. Also, repeatedly hammering home your only real point (that the risk of death and disability is small in absolute terms) does not change the fact that these safety features reduce your risk of death or disability by 30-50%. It also in no way suggests that I or anyone else here "doesn't understand probability." Jack, tell me this: can you reduce a small risk by 30-50%? ........Answer: Yes you can. And as several people have pointed out, although the absolute numbers are small, it's the single most common cause of death and disability in healthy young adults.

Let's just jump to another example for the sake of illustration: giving birth at home vs. giving birth in the hospital. Assuming you have a low-risk baby (full term, not a multiple, not abnormally small [being abnormally small at full term is a risk factor for reasons we don't need to get into], with no congenital abnormalities), the risk that your baby will die or be brain damaged is small in absolute terms either way. However, a massive recent study with solid methodology (see links and explanation below) shows that giving birth at home with a midwife--in other words, planned home births, not ones that happen by accident because labor is too fast or whatever--is 2.5 times as likely to kill the baby as giving birth in the hospital. And when you break hospital births down by whether it's attended by a hospital midwife or a doctor--which matters because hospital midwives, like home birth midwives, serve far lower-risk mothers than doctors do--home births are more than four times more likely to kill the baby.

If we carry your attitude from this thread over to this new topic, it seems you would say, "Hell, give birth in your bedroom--the risk that the baby will die is really low at only 1.32/1000!" But most people expecting a baby would, if faced with these statistics, choose hospital birth because why the hell would they want to triple or quadruple the risk of killing their baby? The absolute numbers are small but every one of them is a real person and a real family tragedy.

Here's an overview of the study:
http://www.skepticalob.com/2014/02/new-cornell-study-shows-homebirth-has-4x-higher-death-rate-than-comparable-risk-hospital-birth.html

And the actual study:
http://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378%2813%2901155-1/fulltext

Brief summary of the methodology: They defined low-risk babies as full term singletons weighing at least 2500g (5.5 pounds). Then they looked at EVERY low-risk baby born in the US over a three-year period (2007-09), or more than TEN MILLION babies. Then they broke those births down by place (home, birthing center or hospital) and attendant (midwife*, doctor, or for home births, "other"--that reflects the "surprise" home births and the ones where the mom decided to give birth without even a midwife). Then they looked at the rate at which babies in each group died. Note, by the way, that even this excellent methodology makes home births look slightly less dangerous and hospital-with-doctor births slightly more dangerous than they really are, because looking at where the baby was actually born means that home birth disasters where mom was transported to the hospital and gave birth there--which is always attended by a doctor and all too often results in a baby who is DOA--were counted as hospital-with-doctor births.

* In the US the midwives who attend home births are almost universally not real, university trained midwives (CNMs); that's part of the reason home births here are comparatively so dangerous.

And nobody has mentioned what the numbers are on lesser degrees of serious injury. Would I spend $5k or $10k to avoid breaking several bones and spending, say, 3 weeks in the hospital and another 8 weeks recuperating? HELL YES I would!

No shit, Sherlock! So would everybody else, solely because of disingenuous way you framed the question! It's yet another red herring: you say "avoid" as if it's guaranteed that both (a) the undesirable event is guaranteed, and (b) the avoidance of said event will be successful. But neither of those things are true.
Would you still spend $5k or $10K to reduce the chance by 1%? By 0.01%? By 0.000001%? By 0.0000000000000000000001%? Where does it end?

No, I fully understand that the risk of being seriously injured in a car accident is relatively low in absolute terms. However, the point you keep dodging is that $5000 or $10,000 is also relatively little money in absolute terms. It's not going to make or break my ability to FIRE, not by a very long shot. And I would gladly spend it to slash my risk of serious injury in half.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Daleth on March 21, 2016, 11:56:38 PM
No. Everybody has to go sometime.  I felt safer in my 1988 S10 than my 2013 Honda Civic.

Um... feeling safe is not the same thing as being safe. Determining whether X is safer than Y is what statistics are for.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: neo von retorch on March 22, 2016, 05:31:25 AM
However, the point you keep dodging is that $5000 or $10,000 is also relatively little money in absolute terms. It's not going to make or break my ability to FIRE, not by a very long shot. And I would gladly spend it to slash my risk of serious injury in half.

Your bold statement is only true for some people!

For example, earn $34,000, have $100,000 in debt. By some miracle, you're saving $2000 / year. But... you increase your automotive spending by $2000 / year to upgrade from a 2004 to a 2014. Now you've pushed back any hope of retirement, because you're saving $0 / year. This person does not need to spend a "trivial amount of money" to increase their safety a "trivial amount." They have bigger fish to fry.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: Jack on March 22, 2016, 09:18:46 AM
If we carry your attitude from this thread over to this new topic, it seems you would say, "Hell, give birth in your bedroom--the risk that the baby will die is really low at only 1.32/1000!" But most people expecting a baby would, if faced with these statistics, choose hospital birth because why the hell would they want to triple or quadruple the risk of killing their baby? The absolute numbers are small but every one of them is a real person and a real family tragedy.

Here's an overview of the study:
http://www.skepticalob.com/2014/02/new-cornell-study-shows-homebirth-has-4x-higher-death-rate-than-comparable-risk-hospital-birth.html

And the actual study:
http://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378%2813%2901155-1/fulltext

Brief summary of the methodology: They defined low-risk babies as full term singletons weighing at least 2500g (5.5 pounds). Then they looked at EVERY low-risk baby born in the US over a three-year period (2007-09), or more than TEN MILLION babies. Then they broke those births down by place (home, birthing center or hospital) and attendant (midwife*, doctor, or for home births, "other"--that reflects the "surprise" home births and the ones where the mom decided to give birth without even a midwife). Then they looked at the rate at which babies in each group died. Note, by the way, that even this excellent methodology makes home births look slightly less dangerous and hospital-with-doctor births slightly more dangerous than they really are, because looking at where the baby was actually born means that home birth disasters where mom was transported to the hospital and gave birth there--which is always attended by a doctor and all too often results in a baby who is DOA--were counted as hospital-with-doctor births.

* In the US the midwives who attend home births are almost universally not real, university trained midwives (CNMs); that's part of the reason home births here are comparatively so dangerous.

I'd do a cost/benefit analysis for that, too! (In fact, when at some point we have kids, my wife has said that she'd prefer not to have the baby in a hospital. Probably not at home either; more like someplace like a 'birthing center' and attended by a midwife or a doula or some other New-Age-y crap like that. I was actually thinking of saying "no" on the grounds that it would cost more than a hospital birth, but it turns out that either would probably max our out-of-pocket for that year anyway so it wouldn't really matter.)

And that last sentence brings me to another point: the situations aren't really comparable because the prevalence of insurance and/or Planned Parenthood etc. and/or the ability for indigent people to go to the ER and just default on the bill means that home birth vs. hospital birth isn't decided on a financial basis in the way picking which car to drive is.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: JordanOfGilead on March 22, 2016, 02:31:35 PM
FOOOOOAAAAAAMMMMMM
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: dogboyslim on March 22, 2016, 04:01:07 PM
Someone is wrong on the internet!  I must reply!

I am amused by this discussion because I work with actuaries familiar with the private passenger auto market in the US.  According to them, the biggest determinant of crash risk while driving a vehicle is the driver's habits and the amount (hours/miles) the vehicle is driven.  When looking at insurance company discounts for those devices that monitor driving habits, the biggest discounts seem to be near 50% of premium.  That means that insurance losses are at least 50% lower for good drivers vs. bad drivers.  Since insurance losses include both the likelihood of a crash as well as the severity of the crash (in $ damages), I think you can see that driving habits are a big deal when it comes to risk.  The other discount to pay attention to is the discount given for vehicles with ESC, backup cameras etc.  I've never seen a discount larger than 10% in aggregate for all combined safety equipment.

So you have a choice.  Choice 1: Drive less.  When you do drive, slow down and pay attention.  This can reduce your crash risk by up to 50% (using insurance losses as a proxy for crash risk).  Cost for Choice 1: Free
Choice 2:  Buy a newer car and reduce your crash risk by up to 10%  Cost: Price of new car net of sale of old car.
Choice 3: Do both and reduce your crash risk by 55%.  Cost: Price of new car net of sale of old car.
Choice 4: Do nothing

As a side-note, the newest car driven by the actuaries in my group is a model year 2006.  Although one of them is looking to buy a brand new pickup truck.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: dess1313 on March 22, 2016, 08:16:20 PM
However, the point you keep dodging is that $5000 or $10,000 is also relatively little money in absolute terms. It's not going to make or break my ability to FIRE, not by a very long shot. And I would gladly spend it to slash my risk of serious injury in half.

Your bold statement is only true for some people!

For example, earn $34,000, have $100,000 in debt. By some miracle, you're saving $2000 / year. But... you increase your automotive spending by $2000 / year to upgrade from a 2004 to a 2014. Now you've pushed back any hope of retirement, because you're saving $0 / year. This person does not need to spend a "trivial amount of money" to increase their safety a "trivial amount." They have bigger fish to fry.


Lets say someone drives into your 2004 car and its written off.  You have a choice of these cars both similar price.
2008 with good IIHS crash ratings
2010 with accepteble/poor crash ratings
What would you pick? I would pick the 2008 car with good ratings. 
You have then bought used, saved money AND have a safer car. 

Some NEW model cars still get crummy ratings.  Its buyer beware. 
I see so many people on here spend hours researching different investments, tax strategies, why wouldnt you spend some time researching how safe your potential new to you car is?
You may only need to move up a few years or to a different model/make of vehicle to be safer. 
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: dess1313 on March 22, 2016, 08:23:28 PM
No. Everybody has to go sometime.  I felt safer in my 1988 S10 than my 2013 Honda Civic.

Just because you feel does not mean you are.  The civics are actually rated good on many parts.  Just because its smaller and you are lower to the ground it can feel very differnent, as well as be harder to see trafic over obsticles.

http://http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/honda/civic-4-door-sedan/2013
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: madmax on March 22, 2016, 09:51:49 PM
Quote
Side note, I have a turbocharged engine, heated leather seats, a Bose sound system, a moon roof, AWD, and HIDs (not to mention stability/traction control and side curtain airbags) on a car that I bought for $6k. That doesn't have to be expensive either. :P

Audi?
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: JLee on March 23, 2016, 06:39:49 AM
Quote
Side note, I have a turbocharged engine, heated leather seats, a Bose sound system, a moon roof, AWD, and HIDs (not to mention stability/traction control and side curtain airbags) on a car that I bought for $6k. That doesn't have to be expensive either. :P

Audi?
'06 Mazdaspeed6.
Title: Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
Post by: patrat on March 23, 2016, 07:25:33 AM
Put both your cars up for sale, at a price where someone might bite, while at the same time it would be a no-brainer to sell the car. Market it well. Use proper language and complete sentences in your advertisement. I did exactly this, and the world decided that I no longer needed my truck.

My example was that my first child had just arrived. My truck was a 2003 single cab tacoma pickup (the fuel efficient one). This truck was fantastic when it was just my wife and I. Does not work for a car seat, so it became the "other" car. I put it up for sale on Craigslist, extolling its virtues, frugality, and uniqueness. I pointed out the ways it had been cared for, and why it was different. My asking price was at least $1000 over market rate, and it sold for my asking price.

My current car was one that was too cheap not to buy, although it came a year later. It does have newer safety features. I got it for cheap because it needed some mechanicals, was high mileage, and cosmetically beat to hell.

So, my advice would be to list both cars for sale. At the same time make a list of newer vehicles that have the safety and driver aids you want. Look diligently, and find one that is rough. By your descriptions, a car with plenty of new driver "apprentice marks" on the bodywork would be ideal, and bring the price down a lot. Also look for cars that are not popular now, or have taken hard depreciation. Older hybrids are cheap now, with cheap gas and paranoia of their complexity. Volvos depreciate like mad, I think because their demographic wants newest/best. Used minivans have outstanding depreciation.

And for chris-sake, buy some studded snow tires or Bridgestone Blizzaks for both vehicles for next winter. The net price is the cost of switching the wheels/tires twice a year; since wear is now spread out across 2 sets of tires. The first accident they avoid pays for the capital investment, by not having to pay that insurance deductible. Tires are just about the most important factor in avoiding a wreck, and I would take a 1987 rwd sportscar on new snow tires over an AWD 2010 on all seasons in a blizzard. You can avoid the price of tire mounting yearly by getting some spare wheels off of Craigslist or the junk yard, about $100 for the set on each car.