As a father of two young kids, I’ve done hours of research understanding the safest cars and SUVs to survive a crash. Nothing is more precious than my children and my spouse. You can be the safest driver on the road and still get into an an accident.
Did you know that despite all the technological advancements in car safety, the car accident death rate had the highest rate of increase in 50 years in 2018?
Lower gas prices and a better economy are two reasons cited for more driving and more dying on the road. But, the other culprit is distracted driving due to our damn mobile phones. We’re texting, searching for new Pandora stations, and surfing the web while driving more than ever before.
Right before the pandemic began, within three months, I witnessed four accidents and experienced three close calls. One accident was strange because two cars stopped at a four-way intersection with stop signs, but the Audi Q5 SUV then proceeded to plow into the Toyota Prius’ front passenger door!
I was rolling up to the intersection when the accident happened. The woman driving the Audi wasn’t aware of the Prius to her left because she was either in a hurry or looking at her phone.
Even though traffic and accidents are way down during the pandemic, I still had two close calls in 2021. The fist was when a truck blasted through a stop sign when I had gone forward after waiting my turn. The other was a driver swerving into my right lane. I suspect both were distracted by their cell phones!
Take a look at the following crash statistics in America and the world according to the Association For Safe International Road Travel for 2016.
Annual United States Road Crash Statistics
- Over 37,000 people die in road crashes each year
- An additional 2.35 million are injured or disabled
- Over 1,600 children under 15 years of age die each year
- Nearly 8,000 people are killed in crashes involving drivers ages 16-20
- Road crashes cost the U.S. $230.6 billion per year or an average of $820 per person
- Road crashes are the single greatest annual cause of death of healthy U.S. citizens traveling abroad
Annual Global Road Crash Statistics
- Nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day.
- An additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled.
- More than half of all road traffic deaths occur among young adults ages 15-44.
- Road traffic crashes rank as the 9th leading cause of death and account for 2.2% of all deaths globally.
- Road crashes are the leading cause of death among young people ages 15-29, and the second leading cause of death worldwide amongst young people ages 5-14.
- Each year nearly 400,000 people under 25 die on the world’s roads, on average over 1,000 a day.
- Over 90% of all road fatalities occur in low and middle-income countries, which have less than half of the world’s vehicles.
- Road crashes cost USD $518 billion globally, costing individual countries 1-2% of their annual GDP.
- Road crashes cost low and middle-income countries USD $65 billion annually, exceeding the total amount received in developmental assistance.
- Unless action is taken, road traffic injuries are predicted to become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030.
I love cars, but I love my life even more. The two easiest things a driver can do are: 1) slow down, and 2) stop looking at or talking on your mobile phone. If you’re a parent, I’d also consider not allowing your teenager to drive or get into a car with another teenage driver.
For those of you who also value the importance of safety, especially if you have a baby or kids, I wrote this post for you.
Car Safety Logic: Bigger, Thicker, Safer
If you were to put these two precious guys:
I firmly believe they’d have a higher chance of surviving a car accident than if they got hit in this:
Unfortunately, none of us are allowed to legally drive a tank around town. Therefore, we most look for the largest vehicle possible that’s also practical to safeguard our loved ones!
Safety According To The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety (IIHS)
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is the authority in vehicle safety in America. Here’s what they have to say about what to look for in a car for safety,
Look for good ratings in frontal crash tests. Most newer models earn top marks for frontal crashworthiness in the federal government’s 35 mph test head-on into a rigid barrier and the IIHS 40 mph moderate overlap test into a deformable barrier.
Many but not all late-model vehicles earn acceptable or good ratings from IIHS for protection in a small overlap front crash.
Choose a vehicle with good side ratings plus side airbags that protect your head. IIHS and NHTSA rate models based on tests that simulate front-into-side crashes. The tests represent different side-impact dangers.
Drivers of vehicles with good ratings in the IIHS side-barrier test are 70 percent less likely to die in a driver-side crash compared with drivers in poorly rated vehicles. The majority of 2008 and newer models have side airbags as standard equipment.
Look for a strong roof. IIHS rates roof strength to help consumers pick vehicles with roofs that will hold up in a rollover crash. Strong roofs reduce the risk of fatal or incapacitating injury in a rollover. Ratings began with 2008-09 models.
Pick a model with a good seat/head restraint rating to reduce whiplash injuries in a rear-end collision. Vehicles with seat/head restraint combinations rated good by IIHS have 15 percent fewer insurance claims for neck injuries than vehicles with poor ratings.
You can help increase protection by adjusting the head restraint to correctly fit your head.
Electronic stability control
Buy a vehicle with ESC. It’s standard on 2012 and newer models and available on many earlier ones. An extension of antilock brake technology, ESC engages automatically to help drivers maintain control on curves and slippery roads.
ESC lowers the risk of a fatal single-vehicle crash by about half and the risk of a fatal rollover by as much as 80 percent.
The safest cars typically weigh between 3,500 lbs. and 4,500 lbs, the range in which a vehicle remains safe in collisions with larger vehicles such as full-size SUVs while limiting additional threats to drivers of smaller, lighter vehicles such as compact cars.
Smaller, lighter vehicles generally offer less protection than larger, heavier ones. People in lighter vehicles also experience higher crash forces when struck by heavier vehicles.
Check the NHTSA site for recalls before buying, and make sure repairs are made.
I wanted to highlight what the IIHS said just in case you don’t believe in my simple picture logic above. I’m sure there are some of you who object to bigger vehicles because you want to save the planet.
But if you really wanted to save the planet, you wouldn’t drive a vehicle at all! You’d only walk, barefoot. You’d also go into a save the planet occupation and live naked in the woods to reduce your carbon footprint.
This article is about saving a passenger’s life in an auto accident.
The Safest Cars To Buy
Under the overarching premise that bigger is safer, let’s go through some various top-ranked vehicles for safety according to various publications.
IIHS – Top 5 Safest Cars For Under $30,000
Toyota Avalon Sedan
Toyota RAV4 Mini-SUV
Nissan Maxima Sedan
Volkswagen Passat Sedan
Autobytel – Safest Vehicles For Under $40,000
Honda Odyssey Minivan
Hyundai Genesis Sedan
Toyota Highlander SUV
Volvo S60 Sedan
The Car Crash Detective – The Top Safest Cars By Side Impact
Some cars provide a satisfying *thunk* when you close their doors. Other cars, not so much. The thunk sound is what you need to hear when buying a safe car because side impacts are the most likely to be fatal. The simple logic is that there’s less material between you and the car that t-bones you compared to front and rear impact collisions.
The Crash Detective writes, “That’s what this list is based on. Every cm between you and a life-ending amount of energy is a life-preserving cm of survival space. Let’s see who’s doing the best job at it right now. For brevity’s sake, I’ll list the top 10 cars I could find.”
24 cm – 2010-2015 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan (e.g., E 350).
22 cm – 2015 Subaru Outback.
22 cm – 2015, 2016 Volkswagen Golf / GTI.
21 cm – 2014, 2015 Fiat 500L.
20.5 cm – 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan (e.g., C 400).
19.5 cm – 2010-2015 Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe.
19.5 cm – 2015 Subaru Legacy.
19 cm – 2011-2015 BMW 5 Series (e.g., 528i).
19 cm – 2012-2016 Audi A6.
19 cm – 2015 Acura TLX.
19 cm – 2013-2015 Dodge Dart.
US News & World Report – Best Luxury Midsize SUVs 2021
Tesla Model X
Porsche Cayenne Hybrid
Lexus RX 350
Lexus RX Hybrid
Range Rover Sport
Volvo XC 90
IIHS – Top Safety Picks For All Vehicle Types 2021
Stay Safe Out There
You may be the safest driver in the world, but that won’t stop a distracted idiot from t-boning you to the hospital.
Slow down, stay alert, and wait to respond to a text message until after you’ve arrived at your destination.
I’ve owned Rhino, my awesome Honda Fit for 2.5 years now (3-year lease). He’s been able to park in 25% more parking spots in San Francisco thanks to his small size. He saves me time and reduces stress. But given that I plan to start a family, I’ve got to focus on safety first, second, and third.
After extensive online and offline research, I’ve narrowed down what my next vehicle will be. If you’d like to share what vehicle you think I should buy or highlight which vehicle has the best combination of safety, style, and fun for a middle-aged person with a new family, please share! I’m all ears.
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