When should I get a new car... for safety reasons?
To what extent should safety improvements be taken into consideration when deciding to buy a new car (or a used car with more modern safety features than one's current car)?
I'd like to take one of my comments from an earlier question - please see here
- and pose it as a question for the hive mind.
I drive a 1998 manual transmission Toyota Corolla, which was paid off years ago. It's reliable, fuel-efficient, and has front airbags (not side-curtain, though) and anti-lock brakes. I drive a lot in the city and seldom on the highway. Only 75,000 miles so far, and I add perhaps 7,000 or so to that total per year. My seven- and five-year-old kids occasionally ride in the car (perhaps 1-2 times per week for each) but it is primarily an econobox for commuting. I make every effort to drive safely and conservatively.
How might (or did) the availability of electronic stability control, side curtain airbags and/or another safety feature affect your decision to buy (or not to buy) a new car? Houstonian had a good reply to my comment in the earlier thread about the importance of driving defensively... I'd assume that is every bit as important as having the latest safety features, but is that an accurate assumption? Are IIHS crash study results useful in this analysis?
For environmental and financial reasons, I'm biased toward driving the car into the ground. I'm concerned that I'm giving safety short shrift in my analysis, however.
Many thanks in advance.