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Old 06-25-2008, 08:44 AM   #101
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I thought the issue was is a big car with poor safety design better than small car with good design.

This discussion started because Smart Car was ruled out on safety grounds because of its size, yet Chrysler Voyager (being large) implicitly wasn't. The crash test results (I presume) mean there are accidents where you would walk away if you'd been in a Smart car, but not if you'd been in a Voyager.

Anyone care to post a statistic of what proportion of accidents are head-on collisions?
cjking, it doesn't make any difference. THAT is what I'm saying.

Look at the stats I posted a few above.

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EDIT - SORRY, Those stats were posted in another, similar thread on Honda FIT.

Early Retirement Forums - View Single Post - Anybody On Here Own a Honda Fit??
Death rates are 3-5x lower for minivans and large cars. So, overall, mass seems to trump maneuverability and design. That's not theory, that's not trying to derive actual safety from simulations with crash test dummies and brick walls, it's not based on a few anecdotes, they are real world facts.

For a variety of reasons, I prefer smaller cars. I was drawn to the Volvo S40 because a small well designed (for safety) car is batter than a small poorly designed one.

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Old 06-25-2008, 09:06 AM   #102
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ERD50.. that looks to me like a nice car! We see a few of them round here but they are $$$ (min, $32k, max. $58k!!).
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I was trying to convince my mom to get one to replace the behemoth Cadillacs she drives. She likes to take the mirrors off the Caddies getting 'em in and out of the garage. But no.. since she often carts around her oldster friends she likes to offer them the De-Luxe "sofa on wheels" experience.
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Old 06-25-2008, 09:40 AM   #103
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ERD50.. that looks to me like a nice car! We see a few of them round here but they are $$$ (min, $32k, max. $58k!!).
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I wouldn't have bought it at that price! My S40 was ~ $22,000, an EOY 2000 model, w/o a lot of options. Seemed to stack up pretty well against cars in that price range and size. I like it, don't love it.

~ 21mpg on my short little trips around town. I'm not on the hwy much, but I think I've seen 27mpg with a mix hwy/town driving.

-ERD50
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Old 06-25-2008, 09:58 AM   #104
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That's not theory, that's not trying to derive actual safety from simulations with crash test dummies and brick walls, it's not based on a few anecdotes, they are real world facts.
And I shall call my invention 'physics'

As I've said before, I will drive a Smart Car as soon as I don't need to share the road at 70-80mph with Redneck Bob in his F-350 King Ranch with the duallies and Soccer Mom Sue in her Excursion... who happens to also be on the phone and trying to write in her day planner (and that was just today's commute).
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Old 06-25-2008, 11:04 AM   #105
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as soon as I don't need to share the road at 70-80mph with Redneck Bob in his F-350 King Ranch with the duallies and Soccer Mom Sue in her Excursion.
Hopefully that will happen in the not-too-distant future.



I wouldn't go so far as to say that such monstrosities should be banned (though I am tempted); but fortunately the free market is providing disincentives.
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Old 06-25-2008, 06:55 PM   #106
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And I shall call my invention 'physics'

As I've said before, I will drive a Smart Car as soon as I don't need to share the road at 70-80mph with Redneck Bob in his F-350 King Ranch with the duallies and Soccer Mom Sue in her Excursion... who happens to also be on the phone and trying to write in her day planner (and that was just today's commute).

Marquette -

Fair enough, but how/when will that ever happen unless some of us start? Me, I've decided to stop paying the "fear tax" --- no more home alarm systems, not driving small cars (or bicycling) cause of fear of big cars, no more carrying cell phones for "safety" (when they cause more accidents than driving drunk), no more not accepting the friendship of a total stranger because I think they'll hurt me .... NO MORE, I can't afford the cost of all that fear. Plus, I think life will be a lot more enjoyable - let alone affordable - because of it.

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Old 06-25-2008, 07:03 PM   #107
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Interesting comment, Jeff. I see what you are saying, and I think that some of the "fear sells" part of the US mentality is to blame for a lot of our purchases. I just went through a whole bunch of mental gymnastics about buying travel insurance, finally deciding against it. A lot of mostly un-needed insurance and even more annuities are sold on fear, to say nothing of the behemoth SUVs out there on the road.

I drive a a cheap old plastic Saturn 4-door and take my chances. Dogs for home alarm system, cell phone paid by the boss, and trying to work on the friendships of strangers (hello fellow forum members).

Thanks for the great term--fear tax. I'll remember that.
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Old 06-25-2008, 07:12 PM   #108
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.... NO MORE, I can't afford the cost of all that fear. Plus, I think life will be a lot more enjoyable - let alone affordable - because of it.
There is no doubt that it will be cheaper. Whether it is also more enjoyable will depend on how the cards fall, and what you enjoy. However, few of us enjoy crippling injuries.

Rational fear of risky events (risky defined as some function of frequency and importance) should be distinguished from fearfulness, which is being fearful out of proportion to risks.

People will always differ on where to set the boundaries, because people have different ways of evaluating their choices.

Driving an unsafe, old, or poorly maintained car is beyond my boundary. But driving a new well designed car that happens to weigh say 3300# instead of 4300 I will do. And I will consider my car obsolete enough to be replaced while it is still in very good shape if much better safety features come along.

This in no way decreases my enjoyment when things go well- in fact I feel good that I and any passengers I might have are well protected. And if things go badly, it might save my life once again.

Ha
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Old 06-25-2008, 07:29 PM   #109
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There is no doubt that it will be cheaper. Whether it is also more enjoyable will depend on how the cards fall, and what you enjoy. However, few of us enjoy crippling injuries.

Rational fear of risky events (risky defined as some function of frequency and importance) should be distinguished from fearfulness, which is being fearful out of proportion to risks.

People will always differ on where to set the boundaries, because people have different ways of evaluating their choices.

Driving an unsafe, old, or poorly maintained car is beyond my boundary. But driving a new well designed car that happens to weigh say 3300# instead of 4300 I will do. And I will consider my car obsolete enough to be replaced while it is still in very good shape if much better safety features come along.

This in no way decreases my enjoyment when things go well- in fact I feel good that I and any passengers I might have are well protected. And if things go badly, it might save my life once again.

Ha

Once again, Fair Enough. But the only sure way to avoid risk is to never live - literally and figuratively. And, if you do (literally or figuratively), you still die in the end.

It's like parents these days driving their kids to school, because it's not safe for them to walk or ride their bikes. The kids are safe from pedophiles (maybe), but on average, statistically, they evetually die much younger because of obesity ... which just might have been prevented by a routine of phyisical acitivity instilled early in life (You know, like the one when we were growing up, and we walked to school?)

As for driving a "safer" v.s. "unsafer" car, remember that the safest thing you can do is simply stay home ... and what's not to like about that?

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Old 06-25-2008, 07:34 PM   #110
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But the only sure way to avoid risk is to never live - literally and figuratively.
Well, if you think that is what I am talking about, you don't do nuance very well. And I don't do black and white very well. So you take your road and I'll take mine.

Ha
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Old 06-25-2008, 07:41 PM   #111
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Well, if you think that is what I am talking about, you don't do nuance very well. And I don't do black and white very well. So you take your road and I'll take mine.

Ha
Golly, I apologize for my lack of nuance, seriously.

Best,
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Old 06-25-2008, 07:46 PM   #112
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Golly, I apologize for my lack of nuance, seriously.

Best,
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Your sarcasm and rhetoric are top drawer. It's your logic that is lacking.
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Old 06-25-2008, 08:04 PM   #113
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OK, so, my friend of 6,932 posts, please explain in cheapskate-simple terms:

"Rational fear of risky events (risky defined as some function of frequency and importance) should be distinguished from fearfulness, which is being fearful out of proportion to risks." .... BUT, please do so in the context of a peasant living in, say, Darfur today. What's the yardstick? One man's "home-safe-home" is another man's "Midnight Express."

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Old 06-25-2008, 08:34 PM   #114
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Jeff , I also draw the line at driving a unsafe care to save a few bucks . It's not fear . It's sanity . I have no desire to spend endless days in an ICU and then to rehab to save a few bucks .
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Old 06-25-2008, 09:08 PM   #115
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Old 06-25-2008, 09:14 PM   #116
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Marquette -

Fair enough, but how/when will that ever happen unless some of us start?

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We all start in our own way Jeff ;-) My wife and I, we're living in a room at a friend's house because we don't see a need to have our own space right now. We own one car and carpool. My wife rides into work with our two roommates. I'm lining up ridesharing with a coworker. We work from home one day a week and will probably push that to two.

As for getting big cars off of the road, I'm thinking that the pumps are taking care of that handily right now... so I'll let Mr. Market start and I'll follow suit. Mr. Market is a big guy and he'll clear the road for me.
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Old 06-25-2008, 10:42 PM   #117
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I still don't really get the concern about vehicle mass. Yes, having mass in front of you helps slow down obstacles. But the mass behind you tends to crush you in an accident. If mass really were that important in safety, why wouldn't you see people bolting on "mass plates" to their cars as safety upgrades?
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Old 06-26-2008, 03:03 AM   #118
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cjking, it doesn't make any difference. THAT is what I'm saying.

Look at the stats I posted a few above.



Death rates are 3-5x lower for minivans and large cars. So, overall, mass seems to trump maneuverability and design. That's not theory, that's not trying to derive actual safety from simulations with crash test dummies and brick walls, it's not based on a few anecdotes, they are real world facts.

For a variety of reasons, I prefer smaller cars. I was drawn to the Volvo S40 because a small well designed (for safety) car is batter than a small poorly designed one.

-ERD50
I agree that those stats are a useful basis of discussion, and render discussion about what proportion of accidents are head-on redundant.

However the way you have summarised them, by sorting, means you are in effect comparing the best cars with the worst. (For example, the best minivan versus the worst subcompact.)

I've computed the typical (median) death rate for each type.

If we make the very unrealistic assumption the we are altruistic enough to care about other peoples lives as much as our own, there's not much difference, with the death rate for subcompacts being 129 versus 114 for SUVs. Minivans total death rate is best at 72. I've looked at the original version of the table, and the others figure only includes the drivers of the other cars, not passengers, so these total figures can fairly be compared with each other.

Anyway, let's look at the stats for driver deaths, and forget about people other than ourselves we might kill. They do indeed show subcompacts as considerably worse than others. The figures are

Minivans 37
SUV 68
mid-size 70
compact 73
large 80
subcompact 95
pickups 111

I'm tempted to make something of pickups being worse than subcompacts, but I'll let it go.

Since subcompacts are only the second worse type, lets be symmetrical and for the sake of argument compare them with the second-best, SUVs at 68.

Your increased chance of dying driving a typical subcompact versus a typical SUV is 95-68 = 27. That's per million cars, so the probability is 0.0027%.

I assert (for the purposes of debate) that the average motorist implicitly values his life at one and a half million dollars, when making motoring purchase decisions. This figure is somewhat made up, it's something I half-remember from something I read a long time ago. If anyone is motivated to Google a better figure I'll be happy to revise my calculations. Note that the figure must relate to cars; people place different values on their life in different contexts. The place I remember this figure from made the point that people demand a much higher standard of safety on public transport - it seems we are willing to take more risks when we know we are in control as drivers, rather than depending on someone else.

The motorist who values his life at 1.5 million dollars should be willing to pay 0.0027%x1,500,000 = $41 more for the extra safety in a typical SUV, compared to a typical subcompact.

That's $41 per year the vehicle is driven, since the death rates are per year.

Remember my Prius versus Murano comparision, where the cost of fuel was about $6000 per year different, and you can see why I don't think safety will be a consideration when choosing my next vehicle.
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Old 06-26-2008, 04:01 AM   #119
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I live in the UK and have no interest in the New Yorker, however this is the third time I've found myself reading a Malcolm Gladwell article on the web, as a result of following links on subjects that interest me. He really writes interesting stuff.

gladwell dot com - big and bad
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Old 06-26-2008, 06:04 AM   #120
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I've just noticed something interesting in the driver fatality stats in that article. There are seven subcompacts in the table. The three American ones have a median death-rate per million of 158, the four foreign ones have a median of 83. It's lucky for me they included a majority of foreign subcompacts in the table, or the subcompacts figure in my post above would have been a lot worse.

In fact in four of the categories, subcompacts, compacts, mid-size and large, there is a huge difference between American and foreign brands. (Among the SUVs, minivans and pickups, there are only two foreign cars, both Toyotas, and both worse than their American equivalents.)

I have the table sorted by type then in descending order of death rates, and for these four categories the American cars all appear at the top within each category, and there is a big downwards jump in the death rates within each type when the table switches to foreign cars.

If we were just looking at these four types, we could still say a big American car is safer than a smaller American one, and a big foreign one is safer than a small foreign one, but a foreign subcompact (83) is actually safer than a large American (median fatalities 90.) The only category out of these four where the median American car beats the median foreign subcompact is the mid-size, where the American median is 75. (The median foreign mid-size has a fatality rate of 53 though.)

So, if you are not buying a pickup, SUV, or minivan, and do plan to choose on the basis of safety, on the basis of the data in this table, I reckon it's more important to buy foreign than to buy big. Foreign and big is best, but foreign small is probably better than American big.
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