Home > The Main Room > The Okie Corral > Passenger Vehicle Safety Comparisons

Passenger Vehicle Safety Comparisons

  1. This was from a thread regarding the OP considering Mini-Vans for purchase. In that thread I asserted that mini-vans are not very safe as compared to the average sedan, which I assign an arbitrary value of 100 for comparing to other vehicles out of class. Thus a Dodge 2500 at 210 and the Honda Odyssey at 68 from the 2017 cycle.

    The major factors I consider are mass, 60" contact crush, 6" contact crush on all 4 sides, supplemental restraint systems, sacrificial crush zones, trip over, high speed rollover. Then I take the IIHS, Manufacturer and 3rd party data to calculate occupant G-Loads due to 15mph, 30mph and 60mph front and rear impacts. Search the NHTSA database for safety issues related to MVAs. There is of course, assumptions based on my reading of the data, IIHS crash tests, review of accidents on the same model and several days every year in the salvage yards looking at cars for which I have obtained accident reports and injury data. If you are interested in what I get from 3rd party companies, here is a sample report of one factor set from one company I buy reports from.


    One has to understand a few things about the various entities that provide crash data, the first I alluded to in the prior thread, which is that the comparisons available to the public are for in class types. Meaning about the same weight and structural elements. So 2 door subcompacts vs 2 door sub compacts. Next, the financial drivers of the two groups that fund the tests (Manufacturers and Insurance companies) are at odds with each other...sales and risk mitigation. But one thing I have learned over 25 years, is that a lot more people are living with significant lower extremity injuries than did when I started. I tell folks that if you want to compare two cars, get them to equivalent dollars in trim level and ask for an insurance quote on both. The one that costs more to insure has a history of more occupant injuries...it is just that simple. When pick-ups went from solid front axles to IFS, the occupant injury rate went up, while at the same time, the vehicle repair (relatively) costs did not.

    The two biggest drivers are $ and Mass. More $ means more demand for safety and the manufacturers comply. If you think about it in terms of insurance, a deceased insured from a $100K care costs them 8 to 10 times what a deceased insured from a $20K costs, so the insurance carriers demand safety above the .gov requirements in more expensive vehicles. Dollars only comes into my analysis in terms of the safety features the manufacturer installs. In so many of the 2 car MVA fatals I work, the descendants are in vehicles with half the mass of the survivors. When I drive, and teach others to drive, I always try to have a smaller vehicle in front of, and behind me, avoid left hand turns at controlled intersections, and stay as far away from Semis as possible. Those practices will, in large part mitigate the base safety ratings of the vehicles you drive.

    Crash severity is a large part of what I do for insurance carriers who hire me to evaluate an accident. The fault part is really pretty easy. I use an accident severity scale to classify the accident for each vehicle based on the damage to the car, and what I know about the safety factors for the vehicle. I do that knowing nothing about the actual injuries to the occupants. Then I provide that in a report (usually) to my clients. They then couple that with a Medical professional who evaluated the injuries without seeing my work. If I go to depo or trial, the IME report is reviewed by me in detail to make any minor adjustments for occupant physiology, and vice versa.

    So, I don't look at all cars, but every 4 years, I take 3 sedans that I "assume" are the mid-pack and assign them the 100 value for that year. Then every MVA I work on, when I get crash data, I compare it. When I have friends or clients ask me to evaluate a vehicle, I have them buy the reports I need and run those. So over 4 years, I get a pretty clean look, and hitting my 5th cycle in 2021, my assumptions are getting better. But still some art to it, as well as a lot of monte carlo type calculations.
  2. That is interesting what you say stay away from semis, smaller cars in front and back.

    One thing I try and do (but hard in Denver traffic on I25) is to leave enough room in front of me and not get behind Semitruck or big box trucks. I like to be able to see through the rear/front of the car in front. What I have seen is if you have ample following distance, it helps immensely. Having more gap in front helps prevent someone rear-ending you. And during hard stops, watch how fast cars are coming up behind you.

    I never really thought that the driver of a $100K cost the insurance company 8 to 10X in a wreck if they are killed. But makes sense, if you kill someone with high earning potential, their family has a bigger claim.

    What goes against my "common sense" is that IFS is more dangerous than solid axle.

    Is some of the reason you see people living with lower extremity injuries is because people are living that would have died before? I had assumed (maybe incorrectly) that with crush zones and such cars keep getting safer.
  3. If I leave some space between me and the guy ahead someone will pull in and take that space.
  4. [​IMG]
  5. Solid axle provides more structural strength than IFS, so it slows intrusion better. Yes, due to airbags and seatbelt tensioners, the torso is really well protected, but the lower legs still take a lot of intrusion in higher speed impacts from the side and front.
  7. @MarkCO I really appreciate your analysis combined with your boots-on-the-ground experience. My family currently drives a 2016 Honda Odyssey. I'd like to move them to an SUV. Price not being an issue, could you recommend one or two makes/models for the most protection? Thank you.
  8. I have test drove the Toyota Sequoia a few times -

    It just feels solid - if I buy another full size SUV it will be a Sequoia.
  9. One of the best and most solid vehicles ever made. I think my next vehicle will be one. They are getting hard to find with low mileage. Well hard at a decent price. LOL
  10. I was very close to buying a 59 Impala. Long story but it fell through. Every time I see this it reminds me about it. I drove a 63 Plymouth as a daily driver a few years ago. Had no seat belts. Cool but a death trap. They must have had a lot of bloody nasty crashes to clean up.
  11. It's worth noting that they likely chose the 1959 Chevy over a 1959 Ford or Chrysler for a reason.

    This is the frame from a 1958 Chevy. The 1959 frame is basically identical for the purposes of this exercise.

    This is a 1959 Ford hardtop frame.

    Notice the difference? Granted the 1959 Ford frame lacks the reinforcement of more modern perimeter frames, I believe it would have offered more protection than the X frame used in the 1959 Chevy and other GM products of the era.
  12. They didn't. Highway death rates in the '50s and '60s were absolutely horrendous compared to today.

    Look at the chart below. Pay special attention to the "Deaths per billion VMT". We have made astounding progress in highway safety over the years. Safer cars and much stricter DUI laws are the main reasons.

  13. My brother used to have a slogan hand painted on the front bumper of his 1976 Dodge power wagon, "Your Car is my Crumple Zone"
  14. I like older cars and have a 1969 Fairlane Cobra in the garage. They aren't as safe
    as newer cars. I don't want my 22 year old driving an older car.
  15. Thanks for your insights and perspective.

    Having said all that, it begs the question: what cars do you own and drive?
  16. Used to be death traps when I was young and broke. Now that I’m older and still broke, a Subaru. I’ll be able to donate intact organs when I die.
  17. My grandfather told me the other day he remembers Highway 59 used to be just two lanes coming up out of Houston back in the 60s and 70s. Said he would come up on horrific car crashes in the rural parts of East Texas when commuting once a week to work in Houston. He said part of the problem was also you couldn't just dial 911 with a cell phone and have an ambulance in 10 min. Said it wasn't uncommon to see someone being hauled off via the bed of a pickup truck to the nearest payphone or hospital.

  18. To be fair, not all older cars are created equal. The Mercedes in this commercial was introduced in 1980, and was in an offset head on collision at 60+ mph. The commercial shows no intrusion in the passenger footwell and there are modern cars that can't do that.

  19. Well that brings back memories. When I was a kid, we used to visit my older brother in Houston. I'll never forget the huge billboards on that stretch of two lane warning to drive carefully and listing the number of deaths. Mom would tell Dad to keep both hands on the wheel! Dad was a two finger driver most of the time.
  20. I was an early adopter of the Sequoia; traded a Suburban for one in 2002. My son is driving it now. It is a tank. After I gave it to him, I missed it so much, I bought another one, a 2017. It's our road trip vehicle and is even more of a tank than the '02. It weighs three tons!. Big, safe, sure footed (AWD is very similar to the Land Cruiser), comfortable... and very thirsty. The old school V8 has gobs of power, but guzzles fuel at 17-18 MPG on the highway. The Sequoia is due for a major refresh soon. The current model has been around since 2008 with only minor changes.
  21. 2008 Mazda Tribute.

    "In government crash testing, the Tribute scores five stars in side impact front and rear, five stars in frontal impact for the passenger, and three stars in frontal impact for the driver." from https://www.autoblog.com/buy/2008-Mazda-Tribute/safety-ratings/
  22. Modern truck frames are similar to unit-body vehicles, in that they have sacrificial front sections of the frame that are designed to deform and crumple, to absorb impact energy. That means that suspension and drive-train components can get pushed into the foot-wells of the cabin, causing lower extremity injuries. Whereas older truck frames were extremely strong, from one end to the other, weren't designed to crumple. Therefore keeping the suspension and drive-train in place, rather than pushing them into the cabin.

    I don't think it's the change from solid live axle front suspensions that's causing the increase in lower extremity injuries, rather it's that the change to IFS happened at about the same time that the frame structures were being engineered with crumple zone sections at the front. Also, SLFASs were prevalent on older trucks with structurally stronger frames, but SLFASs don't in and of themselves provide any better structural strength.

    Actually, old SLFAs and SLRAs are prone to just sheer off in bad accidents, and therefore there was/is simply fewer components to enter the cabin/foot-wells. That might be part of the explanation too.
  23. Wife has been in a full size truck or SUV for 19 years. We bought a Suburban about a year before we got pregnant. Current is a 2011 1500 Dodge Truck. I have a 2006GTO and a 2009 Tahoe. The GTO is mostly driven out of the city and only when the temp won't go below 45F.

    The Tahoe replaced the 2003 Silverado that I gave my son when he turned 16. He has been in a few accidents, the last did the Silverado in...35 mph rollover...he walked away without a bruise. The silverado had hit 3Elk, 2 deer, been in 7 accidents over the course of 17 years. It was big, had an ARB bumper on the front and a drop hitch on the rear. That $1600 of front and rear gear greatly enhanced the safety, and we only had to do minor sheet metal and light pod repairs due to the accidents.

    4Runners and Sequoias are pretty safe. I have been pretty impressed with Genesis of late. Volvo, yes the movie quote was true, boxy but good. Sad thing is, there are not many "inexpensive" cars that I would put high on the overall safety spectrum. There is always a cost benefit analysis, and for years, when asked, I told parents to put their kids in a Saturn or a Ford Taurus (and the names they call them now, as well as the cheaper Marquis). Get a body shop to run a diagnostics on the airbag system and done. They are cheap, not sexy at all, but those two platforms, for the money, are two of the safest in a crash. I'd rather put a teenager into a full size truck if possible, then mid-sized 4 door sedans. I'd never put a Mom in a minivan. The better a driver a person is, the more they can discount overall crashworthiness. I have been hit 8 times (only at fault accident when I was 16) and in each case, I saw it coming and made some changes to mitigate in 5 of them. That can be, from a liability perspective, a risky move.

    If you took our Dodge and Tahoe today, I'd replace them with the heaviest Genesis and a 2500 Dodge, but that is based on our needs and utilization as well.

    Better money than spending an extra $4K to get a safer car is a performance/safety driving class. Not driver ed, but a good one. The book "Drive to Survive" is one I keep buying copies of and handing them out, also a good use of $12.

  24. I had a 1978, I know what he meant. I called it the Lumber Wagon.
  25. Why would anyone want to survive as a vegetable or quadrapalegic
  26. Jesus.
    Maybe some driving classes might be a good investment? Or corrective eyewear? How do you wreck one vehicle seven times? That tops anything Danica Patrick ever managed.
  27. For you, invest in a reading comprehension course. Go read my post again, slowly, and you will see that I did not "wreck one vehicle seven times".
  28. Saving the head and torso from the most severe impacts, which the insurance industry wanted, is something some will say, at least in private, has cost them a small amount of profit, and significantly increased insurance rates in the US. More survivors with life long care needed. Cars totalled because the airbag systems cost so much to replace and recalibrate.

    Ready for the sucker punch??? Self correcting cars. The cost to recalibrate those systems is going to be astronomical. Audits of cars repaired that have these systems shows that only about 10 to 15% are properly re-calibrated after an MVA and subsequent repair. What Americans "think" is going to save money and lives, will, in the end cost more. And that is provided the elephant in the room can be addressed...a 20 something programmer making moral life and death decisions as he codes the avoidance algorithms.
  29. My first car was a 1955 Pontiac two door sedan, three on the tree, pretty basic. But someone in its history had added front seat belts. So I was accustomed to and appreciated seat belts well before it was cool.
  30. Yeah. Those "high performance driver education" events are always fun...but now it is so far at High Plains Raceway for the driver training....sometimes CSP has "driver training" days at their training facility.
  31. Hey. Bet Danica is hawter...
  32. Interesting question, but with autonomous cars, programming of what to hit is required.

    If your car "sees" a semi a truck and a pedestrian and can't avoid a collision with one or the other, then it has to make a decision. A driver would have to make the same decision. But now the decision is a pre-calculated decision and algorithm. That seems really bad for liability to program in a for a car to pick the least bad of two two bad options.
  33. Once in a while I wish I had sumthin' like this..
  34. Let me quote you:
    "The silverado had hit 3Elk, 2 deer, been in 7 accidents over the course of 17 years."

    That's your complete sentence.
    WTF else is that sentence supposed to mean?
  35. The “new car” configuration and execution of my Mustang’s lane keeper, adaptive cruise, auto high beams and pre-accident braking calibrations are impeccable. I’m pretty much in awe of how well they work.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  36. Exactly what it means, why I suggested the class for you.
  37. He didn't say he wrecked it 7 times. That was your assumption.
  38. Just because a vehicle was crashed seven times does not mean that it had the same driver each time.
  39. [​IMG]
  40. 7 is a lot of accidents. A lot.
  41. Okay, how does ANYONE wreck a vehicle seven times?
    How does a FAMILY wreck a vehicle seven times?
    How does any group of people who share the experience of driving a single vehicle somehow manage to wreck said vehicle SEVEN ****ING TIMES? (In addition to all the deer/elk strikes)

    This group of people, collectively, should consider corrective eyewear and/or significant driving instruction.
  42. You seem awfully invested in this, but regardless...

    I bought a Honda Pilot in Dec 2017. It's been in three accidents since then, none of those accidents have been my fault or my wife's fault. One accident involved me striking a curb and destroying a tire and rim to avoid an accident due to someone else running a stop sign. Another one happened when my wife got rear-ended at a red light. The third involved a hit and run in a parking lot. That is in less than three years of ownership.

    My father in law had five separate deer strikes in his Traverse, all with him behind the wheel in the span of about 8 years.

    **** happens sometimes.
  43. Nah. Not invested. Just a little pissed at the OP's ****ty response to what was intended as a light-hearted comment.
  44. A couple thoughts...

    I had read several years ago that while SUVs are safer in accidents with other cars, they are also more likely to get into non collision rollover accidents and so they weren't any safer in the end.

    Would be interesting to know if minivans are more likely to have young occupants, and injuries or deaths because of that.
  45. SUV rollovers in the era of the Blazer II, the Trooper II and the Bronco II, were really an issue. Some believed it was the "II" but it was really the design of those first downsized SUVs that was the problem. High roll centers and car like handling took many a life and arm. I actually participated in one .gov funded rollover study as the safety guy and another one as an engineer. We built racks to keep them from actually rolling. Then of course we tried to race them tipped onto two wheels...but I digress.

    I have worked on a lot of accidents where Mom, even Mom and Dad was killed, and the kids in boosters or car seats were virtually unscathed. Even kids in back seats with seatbelts often fare better than adults in front seats. So no, I have not seen any data to suggest that death rate in mini-vans is multiplied by the fact that there are usually kids. That said, in T-bones to the side of a mini-van, whoever is in the intrusion zone is often a fatality regardless of age, airbags or car seats. I did an accident in Colorado Springs many years ago where a small SUV was rear-ended at a high rate of speed. Mom, in driver seat died instantly. Baby in car seat (properly installed) right behind her was pulled from the wreckage 30m later with a few small scratches and a bruise on the arm. Anecdotal sure, but I have seen similar occurrences.
  46. He must've wrecked it the most and took offense. :animlol:
  47. If you really want safer roads, then cars should come with one of these installed.
    The spike, not the purple leopard spot upholstery.