Author Topic: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features  (Read 37252 times)

BlueMR2

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #50 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).

Daleth

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #51 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?

tobitonic

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #52 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

FIRE47

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #53 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

The Happy Philosopher

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #54 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.

FIRE47

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #55 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.

randymarsh

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #56 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

soupcxan

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #57 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...

randymarsh

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #58 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.

dess1313

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #59 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. 

abhe8

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #60 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.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2016, 06:16:49 AM by abhe8 »

MrsDinero

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #61 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.

Daleth

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #62 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?
« Last Edit: March 13, 2016, 08:29:33 AM by Daleth »

Jack

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #63 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!
« Last Edit: March 13, 2016, 08:35:45 AM by Jack »

Daleth

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #64 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.

The Happy Philosopher

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #65 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.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2016, 09:31:14 AM by frugaldoc »

tobitonic

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #66 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.

Abe

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #67 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.

Case

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #68 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.

Case

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #69 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.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2016, 12:00:40 PM by Case »

Genevieve

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #70 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.

dess1313

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #71 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.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2016, 09:04:32 PM by dess1313 »

dess1313

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #72 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.

JLee

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #73 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...

ooeei

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #74 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.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2016, 09:25:21 AM by ooeei »

Jack

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #75 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).

Genevieve

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #76 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.

JLee

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #77 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. :)

Genevieve

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #78 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.

Jack

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #79 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.

randymarsh

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #80 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.

Daleth

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #81 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.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2016, 07:57:01 PM by Daleth »

Jack

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #82 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! Learn it!
« Last Edit: March 14, 2016, 09:13:07 PM by Jack »

tobitonic

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #83 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.

tobitonic

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #84 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.

Jack

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #85 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.

Jack

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #86 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).

The Happy Philosopher

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #87 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.

dess1313

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #88 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.

tobitonic

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #89 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, 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.

tobitonic

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #90 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?

ooeei

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #91 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.

Daleth

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #92 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.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2016, 07:47:52 AM by Daleth »

Genevieve

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #93 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.

ooeei

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #94 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. 
« Last Edit: March 15, 2016, 08:33:47 AM by ooeei »

Jack

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #95 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.

Trudie

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #96 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. 

Paul der Krake

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #97 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.

soupcxan

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #98 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.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2016, 09:11:42 AM by soupcxan »

Paul der Krake

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Re: Is it worth upgrading car for more safety features
« Reply #99 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?