Author Topic: Safe Cars  (Read 4162 times)

BallardStubble

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Safe Cars
« on: February 11, 2017, 01:29:09 PM »
Hi everyone!

I currently have a 2000 Nissan Altima, which has been super reliable for us. But, my wife and I recently had a baby girl and we're getting paranoid with safety. I've read up on things like ESP, ABS, crumple zones and the strength of steel in cars tripling over the past decade. I'm not interested in the newest, safest car out there, but I'm looking for the most cost-effective car that has these modern safety features. I figured it would be easy to find online, but I'm having the hardest time finding anything that doesn't recommend cars made in the last two years. I know MMM has a car-buying guide, but because my primary concern is no longer cost, depreciation and reliability, but rather safety (with those other three factors still being very important, just not as important), I'm trying to find some resource that has a list tuned towards what I'm looking for. Does anyone have any suggestions or if you don't have any article to link to, any car recommendations for a car that wasn't made in 2015 and cost over $20k, like all the other articles out there recommend? I'd like to stick to $6k max, but I'd be willing to go over this if there simply aren't cars available at that rate with modern safety features.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2017, 03:23:09 PM »
Look for IIHS top safety picks from a few years ago; for example the first generation Volt was on that list and can be gotten used for, well, not $6k, but decent prices.

RecoveringCarClown

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2017, 04:43:15 PM »

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2017, 06:48:55 PM »
That's my least favorite article on the site. Safety is not an illusion.

lbmustache

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2017, 06:53:32 PM »
Does your car not have ESP or ABS?

You can find a newer car for $6k... it will just be a bit smaller (or maybe the same size) as your Altima. I'm thinking Nissa Versa or Nissan Sentra.

If you can up the budget to $8-$10k, you can buy a relatively new Camry or Corolla (2011+) with plenty of safety features.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2017, 12:47:19 AM »
Going to a car made five or so years ago should be a pretty significant safety improvement from an old Altima.

Then just work on driving less. :)

FIRE47

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2017, 06:55:33 AM »
Make sure not to get something too small if you are concerned with safety - you don't have to get a 7 passenger SUV but stay away from sub compacts or even compacts etc

In my reading the occupants of these vehicles are at much higher risk of death in multi vehicle collisions. A nice midsize sedan or small suv seems to be the sweet spot as far as safety of the vehicle vs gas mileage and cost and not severely increasing the hazard to other users of the road.

Basically any newer car that isn't much smaller than your Altima will be a significant safety improvement.

IIHS:

Crash statistics confirm this. The death rate in 1-3-year-old minicars in multiple-vehicle crashes during 2007 was almost twice as high as the rate in very large cars.

"Though much safer than they were a few years ago, minicars as a group do a comparatively poor job of protecting people in crashes, simply because they're smaller and lighter," Lund says. "In collisions with bigger vehicles, the forces acting on the smaller ones are higher, and there's less distance from the front of a small car to the occupant compartment to 'ride down' the impact. These and other factors increase injury likelihood."

The death rate per million 1-3-year-old minis in single-vehicle crashes during 2007 was 35 compared with 11 per million for very large cars. Even in midsize cars, the death rate in single-vehicle crashes was 17 percent lower than in minicars. The lower death rate is because many objects that vehicles hit aren't solid, and vehicles that are big and heavy have a better chance of moving or deforming the objects they strike. This dissipates some of the energy of the impact.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2017, 07:00:49 AM by FIRE47 »

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2017, 04:06:08 PM »
One thing to keep in mind is that drunk driving non-seat-belt-wearing portion of the population REALLY skews the safety numbers in regards to fatalities. For example, electronic stability control in larger cars saves a lot of lives by preventing rollovers, but something like 80% of the fatalities in SUV rollovers are among the small portion of people who don't wear seat belts. Similarly, younger people are more likely to buy compact cars, and they are also more likely to drive drunk.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2017, 04:18:58 PM »
Your 2000 altima is already much safer than what your parents drove you around in, and roughly 1 million times safer (totally scientific number, believe me) than what they were driven around in. Nobody in your family tree has ever been safer getting into a car than your daughter.

Consider focusing on the things that you can control, such as driving during daytime and in good weather, instead of worrying on the state of the art of safety features.

But if you really, really insist, all models 2010 and newer get ESC.

MoonLiteNite

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2017, 05:46:58 PM »
You can look at this 2 ways
- there are NO safe cars
- All cars are safe

So buying another car will not change much.
You will better yourself 10x by just being a better driver

edit: Some cars are "Safer" than others, but a .01% chance at being less hurt or not dying isn't worth it. The best thing to do is AVOID the accident to begin with. Which is why i said just being a better driver would help more than buying another car.

« Last Edit: February 12, 2017, 05:48:46 PM by MoonLiteNite »

Hargrove

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2017, 07:21:08 PM »
You can look at this 2 ways
- there are NO safe cars
- All cars are safe

So buying another car will not change much.
You will better yourself 10x by just being a better driver

edit: Some cars are "Safer" than others, but a .01% chance at being less hurt or not dying isn't worth it. The best thing to do is AVOID the accident to begin with. Which is why i said just being a better driver would help more than buying another car.

Not even being flippant, either.

IIHS stats on accidents say they're incredibly safe compared to just a few decades ago, despite the almost constant complaint that cars are built badly today. They're not built to last AND stay pretty (assuming no accident) since they don't even have bumpers, but most modern cars do well in accidents (read: keep the passengers from harm).

Here are the three worst mini-cars with listed stats from IIHS from 2009-2012 (a THREE YEAR SPAN):

Chevrolet Aveo    99 (deaths)    296,315 (accidents)
Hyundai Accent    120 (deaths)    273,617 (accidents)
Kia Rio                    149 (deaths)    258,137 (accidents)

So there is a 1 in 1372 chance in a vehicle accident with the worst performing car that someone in it died. I don't know how someone can say "OH MY GOODNESS THAT'S UNACCEPTABLE LIFE IS PRICELESS NO KIA RIO FOR ME," and still drive a car with a 1 in 3000 chance of the same (per accident - how many people are in more than 1 or 2 accidents?). A handful of the bigger vehicles have 0s, larger cars seeming to be among the best, and... it's overwhelmingly safer to drive less or not at all, and especially to avoid inclement weather and high speed. Or, you can pay many thousands of dollars to manipulate your safety statistics from "very tiny" to "also very tiny."

So 4-16k plus compounding on a 1-ton hunk of metal that more expertly collapses when it strikes another 1-ton hunk of metal at 65mph, or drive better/less/not at all?

I really do think it makes most sense to either find modern safety stats amazing, or give up cars.

Laura33

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2017, 07:30:18 PM »
I think this is a reasonable question.  It seems like we periodically get a huge leap forward in safety features (seatbelts, airbags, etc), and IMO we have just had another of those with active crash-avoidance features.  Many car companies now offer a suite of these features that includes things like automatic braking (both for pedestrians and at highway speeds), lane-departure warnings, and rear cross-traffic warnings (for e.g. when you are pulling out of a parking spot in a lot and you can't see oncoming traffic).  I care less about stuff that might avoid a fender-bender, but something that might prevent me -- or my soon-to-drive teenager -- from slamming into someone at full speed on the interstate, or running down a pedestrian and ruining two lives because she decides to be a dumb-ass and look at her phone "for just a second," sounds pretty reasonable to me. 

The good news is that a number of makes are now filtering this down to lower-end models -- a few years ago, it was the $50K Mercedes, and now you can get it in some models that are in the low-$20K territory.  The bad news is that it has just started filtering down and so will take a few more years to make it to the used market. 

I am not operating under an illusion that I can protect myself and my family from all horribles.  OTOH, I am also not convinced by the "well, you survived, and you didn't even have X" fallacy -- because a lot of people did *not* survive before seat belts, before carseats, before airbags, etc.  They just aren't here to argue the other side.  Driving a car is still an excellent way to die in our modern, "safe" world.

So I don't think it is at all black and white -- it is a personal decision, based on your own resources, priorities, how much you need to drive, etc.  I am not rushing out to buy a new car right now with the new tech, because I haven't had an accident in, oh, three decades and feel pretty confident in my defensive driving skills (umm, knock on wood -- now watch me totally jinx myself).  But who knows how I will feel once my highly-distractable teenager actually starts driving?


RWD

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2017, 08:43:09 PM »
Anything built in the last decade should be quite safe.

Syonyk

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2017, 10:09:23 PM »
I currently have a 2000 Nissan Altima, which has been super reliable for us. But, my wife and I recently had a baby girl and we're getting paranoid with safety.

Congratulations!  Both on having a car older than average and on having a daughter!

Quote
I've read up on things like ESP, ABS, crumple zones and the strength of steel in cars tripling over the past decade. I'm not interested in the newest, safest car out there, but I'm looking for the most cost-effective car that has these modern safety features.

Get a Mazda 3.  Common as hell, not awful on fuel, pretty darn good crash ratings.  You should be able to find one of the SkyActiv models for not an insane amount of money.

Get a decent car seat, and put it in the center of the rear row (the side is more convenient, the center is safer).

And then rejigger your life so you're driving her around a lot less, because "unsafe * 0 miles" is safer than "super-duper-ultra-amazingballz-safe * 100,000 miles."

Quote
I know MMM has a car-buying guide, but because my primary concern is no longer cost, depreciation and reliability, but rather safety (with those other three factors still being very important, just not as important), I'm trying to find some resource that has a list tuned towards what I'm looking for.

And now the rant.

Decide what you want to do with how you raise your kid, and live consistently.  There is more to life than "being safe" - and, I'd argue, many things of value in life are not "super-safe."

My wife & I ride motorcycles.  We have an almost-2-year-old daughter, and our most recent vehicle purchase was a motorcycle with a sidecar so that she can ride with us sooner.  Turns out, nobody has any laws, whatsoever, about kids in sidecars - and she loves riding in it.  Is it the safest thing on the planet?  Hell no.  Do we think it's worth it?  Absolutely.  We've made the decision that we're willing to make "less-safe" decisions for things we value, and things she likes, because we're both of the opinion that there is more to life than raw safety, and you miss a ton of things that way.  And, to make it worse, I fly small airplanes and intend to take my daughter up this summer.  My main concern is figuring out some way to get her high enough up so she can see out.

Would I replace a 2000 Nissan because I had a kid?  No.  Put her in the center of the back in a good car seat, don't drive drunk, take a defensive driving class, autocross the car so you know the limits, and stop worrying about it.

And, man to man, if this is your wife's obsession, get a newer car you can justify as being "safe."  It's worth it.  If it's your obsession?  Focus on solid defensive driving and stop worrying that much about it.  You'll drive different with your kid in the car.  I do.  I'm quite confident I've not bounced off the rev limiter once with my wife or daughter in the car, but I sure know where it is, and think the tach is a lying sack for implying the engine can do 8k RPM.



And, assuming Ballard refers to the Seattle area, you're super-safe.  Nobody can get through the traffic fast enough to have a serious accident there.  I don't miss that area even one bit.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2017, 10:11:17 PM by Syonyk »

WildJager

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2017, 10:35:41 PM »
Car safety is an interesting phenomineon to me.  I'm the guy who leaves 15 minutes early and drives a couple miles an hour below in the speed limit.  When I'm driving, I just cruise.  I see problems coming from a long distance away, so I just slow down more to mitigate it.

On the other hand, most people I've ridden with while they're driving seem to be trying to compete with everyone else on the road.  Making "great time" seems to be a badge of honor for them, regardless of the exponential increase in safety risk.

I've never been in a wreck, except for when I wasn't the one driving.

On the other hand, I fly ultralights and paragliders (and go backpacking alone! Gasp!) as some of my hobbies.  I can't tell you how many times I've been told that those things are "so dangerous". 

Life is about risk management.  If you don't understand how to mitigate risk (by positively identifying actual risk), no activity will truly be safe.  I felt safer flying combat missions in Afghanistan that I do driving around many American highways.  Driving is one of the most hazardous activities I participate in because of the other people on the road.  Hence why I take it slow and keep my eyes open.  Safety features can help I guess, but they are a fraction as effective as situational awareness. 

BallardStubble

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2017, 10:46:20 PM »
Thanks everyone! I really appreciate all the interesting takes and positions. My primary concern is other drivers on the road crashing into us. So, we've already finished the period of lengthy debate on car safety and have agreed to pursue upgrading to a safer car (que moans). I understand this doesn't make sense to a lot of people here, but that's not really where I want the focus to be on. I guess what I'm trying to ask is what's the best car I can purchase between $5-$8k that has the modern safety features of 1) hot-pressed/stamped steel, 2) ESP and 3) crumple zones. I know best is subjective, so I'll say my criteria beyond these safety features are cost, depreciation and reliability. It looks like we have a Mazda 3 with Skyactiv recommendation. Any others (preferably with year included!).
« Last Edit: February 12, 2017, 10:55:20 PM by BallardStubble »

MoonLiteNite

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2017, 12:05:54 AM »
You can look at this 2 ways
- there are NO safe cars
- All cars are safe

So buying another car will not change much.
You will better yourself 10x by just being a better driver

edit: Some cars are "Safer" than others, but a .01% chance at being less hurt or not dying isn't worth it. The best thing to do is AVOID the accident to begin with. Which is why i said just being a better driver would help more than buying another car.

Not even being flippant, either.

IIHS stats on accidents say they're incredibly safe compared to just a few decades ago, despite the almost constant complaint that cars are built badly today. They're not built to last AND stay pretty (assuming no accident) since they don't even have bumpers, but most modern cars do well in accidents (read: keep the passengers from harm).

Here are the three worst mini-cars with listed stats from IIHS from 2009-2012 (a THREE YEAR SPAN):

Chevrolet Aveo    99 (deaths)    296,315 (accidents)
Hyundai Accent    120 (deaths)    273,617 (accidents)
Kia Rio                    149 (deaths)    258,137 (accidents)

You are using raw numbers.
MORE people have cheap cars, less educated people have cheap cars, younger drivers have cheap cars. So no matter how safe the car is, you will have MORE deaths with cheap cars since there are more drivers of the cheap cars.


SnackDog

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2017, 01:08:44 AM »
Just Google "safest cars under 10000". There are plenty. I recommend the Mazda6 or Toyota RAV4. Avoid the VWs as they are not reliable.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2017, 04:33:56 AM »
2010 and newer isn't the right number for universal ESC -it might be 2011 but my 2010 Honda Fit didn't have it.

RWD

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2017, 07:01:58 AM »
Thanks everyone! I really appreciate all the interesting takes and positions. My primary concern is other drivers on the road crashing into us. So, we've already finished the period of lengthy debate on car safety and have agreed to pursue upgrading to a safer car (que moans). I understand this doesn't make sense to a lot of people here, but that's not really where I want the focus to be on. I guess what I'm trying to ask is what's the best car I can purchase between $5-$8k that has the modern safety features of 1) hot-pressed/stamped steel, 2) ESP and 3) crumple zones. I know best is subjective, so I'll say my criteria beyond these safety features are cost, depreciation and reliability. It looks like we have a Mazda 3 with Skyactiv recommendation. Any others (preferably with year included!).

Crumple zones were invented in 1937, so anything you look at will be fine. Cars at least as old as 2005 are available with ESC.

What about a 2008 Honda Accord? Top Safety pick for the year on IIHS. ESC standard. Average price on AutoTrader is $9.5k, so it should be easy to find one under $8k.

If you want to go slightly older there's the Subaru Legacy/Outback which has optional ESC and also is a Top Safety Pick. Slightly worse fuel economy than the Accord.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2017, 07:38:47 AM »
Car safety is an interesting phenomineon to me.  I'm the guy who leaves 15 minutes early and drives a couple miles an hour below in the speed limit.  When I'm driving, I just cruise.  I see problems coming from a long distance away, so I just slow down more to mitigate it.

Driving slower than everyone else is less safe. Just go the speed limit.

marielle

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #21 on: February 13, 2017, 08:20:06 AM »
What about taking a defensive driving course coupled with the newer car? Might give you a bit peace of mind.

Or only drive with the kid if you absolutely have to in the first few years. Only run errands when the other is home to stay with the kid, etc. Will reduce your risk much more than driving the safest car ever (maybe a Tesla because it's less likely to flip and it'll brake/accelerate for you to avoid accidents). Seems obvious advice but I see way too many "baby on board" stickers...I feel like you should only be driving with your baby from the hospital and from daycare...

WildJager

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #22 on: February 13, 2017, 08:31:45 PM »
Car safety is an interesting phenomineon to me.  I'm the guy who leaves 15 minutes early and drives a couple miles an hour below in the speed limit.  When I'm driving, I just cruise.  I see problems coming from a long distance away, so I just slow down more to mitigate it.

Driving slower than everyone else is less safe. Just go the speed limit.

Eh, considering most drive 5 over because "cops don't pull you over at that speed", even the speed limit is often slower than the traffic. 

Driving 68 in a 70 Mph zone in the slow lane means I can stay on cruise control pretty much the whole trip.  2 mph of closing speed is not enough to cause a problem.  If the relative speed is beyond that, my point still stands.  It's a failure of planning on the part of those who need to speed to compensate.

Syonyk

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Re: Safe Cars
« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2017, 09:12:18 PM »
What about taking a defensive driving course coupled with the newer car? Might give you a bit peace of mind.

Or one of the car handling courses where you flog your car to the limits and beyond to learn how it recovers from getting sideways, panic braking, etc.

On top of that just sounding fun. :)