Saw ugly accident, ready to ditch my car. Am I overreacting?
August 9, 2019 12:45 PM   Subscribe

I have a safe, reliable car. But SO, our toddler and I were literally seconds away from getting T-boned in an accident where a distracted and/or irresponsible tow truck driver ran a red light and slammed into the passenger side of the sedan right in front of us. Everyone was okay, but we were left shaken. My anxiety says I need a new car. Or do I?

I have a 2010 Nissan Versa hatchback. I love it, and the safety ratings are good for a car in its class.


I also have a toddler, and her rear facing car seat will only fit behind the seats and not in the middle. There are no side airbags in the back. I'd be much happier if she were in the middle and/or if there were side impact airbags, but here we are. My specs for a car are:

* Small size. I love the Versa because I'm 5'0, 100 lbs and it's the perfect size.
* Hatchback. I just love this feature, never liked trunks.
* Good safety ratings.
* Reliable according to Consumer Reports and other reputable places.
* Good gas mileage. SO and I have two cars and we don't drive them much at all. Well under 12K per year; we live close to work and we carpool for environmental and financial reasons (parking downtown is prohibitively expensive where we live, plus climate change).

I haven't shopped for a car in almost a decade. I have no idea where to start. Last time I shopped, the only ones that fit my criteria in terms of comfort and safety were the Honda Fit and the Nissan Versa. I went with the Versa.

If something happened to my daughter, I'd never forgive myself. But maybe a car can't prevent that? Maybe what I have is safe as it gets?
posted by onecircleaday to Shopping (45 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Just to be clear about your question - are you looking for answers to:
  1. Is your car statistically more or less safe than newer or other cars?
  2. Are you being responsible by using your current vehicle to transport your toddler?
  3. What would be a good replacement vehicle?
  4. ... something else?

posted by saeculorum at 12:57 PM on August 9, 2019

Your instincts are right -- the 2010 Nissan Versa is definitely not one of the safest cars on the road. Scroll down to the bottom of this article, and you'll see that for 2009-2012 it's one of the models with the worst death rate per million miles.

The safety ratings you looked at when you bought the car were probably based on crash tests with dummies, but the statistic above is based on real world accidents.
posted by dacoit at 1:03 PM on August 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I think you will ultimately have to make a decision about whether the practicality/size of your Versa is worth the slightly increase fatality rates. Small, light-weight, hatchbacks with a (relatively) high center of gravity are always going to show up badly in mortality statistics. The vehicles are all small hatchbacks, or sports cars (as you might expect), or work trucks (driven in industrial applications). In other words, you can switch to another hatchback - but it probably won't be a quantifiably safer vehicle.

I think that driving is more or less safe. I also believe that safety is determined more by the attentiveness of the driver than the car driven. I wouldn't switch cars if you like the hatchback form factor. However, if you do want to switch cars, consider buying a bigger car rather than focusing on the airbags.
posted by saeculorum at 1:10 PM on August 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Saecolorum - yes, you are correct on all of the above.
posted by onecircleaday at 1:11 PM on August 9, 2019

This may seem like a dumb question, but is a bigger car necessarily safer? I'm honestly asking the question - no snark or devil's advocate here.
posted by onecircleaday at 1:14 PM on August 9, 2019

Safety of car types is an area debated frequently. In my opinion from available evidence, the best conclusion is that within a type of vehicle, the bigger the vehicle is, the statistically safer it is. This has many caveats. For instance, very large sedans sometimes show higher fatality rates than smaller ones - the sort of very large sedans measured tend to primarily be driven by elderly drivers.

Again, as an area debated frequently, I'll also note that poor driver attentiveness and unsafe driving is extremely well-correlated with car collisions. In other words - if you want to be a better parent, consider taking the money and renting hotel rooms on long car trips to avoid driving while sleepy rather than getting another hatchback that may or may not be statistically safer.
posted by saeculorum at 1:24 PM on August 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

Everything else being equal, which they never are, a big car gets an advantage in accidents because crumple zones are larger which distributes the force of an impact over a longer period reducing instantaneous peak size.

Just as an FYI: Side impact air bags will have little if any safety difference for a passenger constrained by an infant car seat as their head is already constrained by the seat.
posted by Mitheral at 1:25 PM on August 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

Broadly speaking, mid-size sedans are safer than small cars. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety aggregates reported mortality data. To see the Versa’s performance, set the Model Year drop down to 2011, then toggle between small vs. midsize.
posted by lemon_icing at 1:30 PM on August 9, 2019

I would suggest getting a new car. Most cars have more safety features now than the average car from 9 years ago. The Toyota Prius is a hatchback that performs well on the IIHS and the NHTSA crash tests. It also fuel efficient.
posted by mundo at 1:35 PM on August 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

As far as alternative cars, I'm a big fan of my VW Golf Alltrak. I'd also look at the Mini Coopers (the 4 door and the clubman) ... Excellent safety features, bigger than your versa, but still with a hatch.
posted by Jacob G at 1:46 PM on August 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Here's a good AskMe from 2018 about car safety. You don't have to get a brand new 2019 model to see safety improvements. A hatchback from 2017 will most definitely have more features than one from 2010.
posted by mundo at 1:55 PM on August 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is exactly why I got a 2019 Hyundai Kona ultimate a few months ago.
posted by kiwi-epitome at 1:57 PM on August 9, 2019

Definitely go through the IIHS website, you want to pay attention to their "Top Safety Picks" by year. I can see for 2019 that there are some hatchbacks and wagons received TSP designation. And you don't need a brand-new car to get an improvement in safety, I think 2012 or later will get you a significant improvement over your current car.
posted by stowaway at 2:00 PM on August 9, 2019

Car crashes are a leading cause of death and injury for children. The best way to keep your child safe is to have her in the car as little as possible. If you get a new car and you drive more as a consequence, you are increasing the risk. You can also reduce the risks by being vigilant about paying attention while you drive because distracted driving is on the rise.

Having a booster/car seat and using it properly reduces chances of injuries significantly.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:04 PM on August 9, 2019 [6 favorites]

Rather than get a ‘safer’ car (which are generally safer for occupants but deadlier to pedestrians, cyclists, scooters, skaters, etc)

You could opt out of owning a car. Most modes of travel are safer than car travel. Except perhaps cycling, which is only really dangerous because of all the cars.

This is tough because a lot of the world had designed their entire lives around cars; but you can use various rental/share schemes in most cities to bridge the gap, though it’s still safest not to drive them at all.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:13 PM on August 9, 2019 [10 favorites]

This may well be an unwelcome answer here, but I don't have a car, and this answer is to recommend that. I can drive, but I don't, and this is a baseline you should consider with any vehicle purchase if it's at all a realistic comparison. So, I offer this as perspective only. Safety is down the list of my own concerns, but it's on the list, because:

- I live & work walkably. I also have no children. However, most of my neighbors do the same, and many have children. Streets are narrow & people are mostly on electric bikes or public transit here. This is actually another caveat, blah blah blah.
- You are not a professional driver, but taxi drivers are (that's old and NYC biased but it's real). There is no vehicle on the road as big as the bus. There is no brake on earth as powerful as a red light and traffic cameras. There is no insurance policy as powerful as a driver hitting a pedestrian in a driver-fault jurisdiction. There is no guarantor of road safety better than not being on it.

No car you buy will ever be as safe as not driving at all, and no safety consideration of vehicle changes is complete without that in mind.
posted by saysthis at 2:15 PM on August 9, 2019 [10 favorites]

Check your memail.
posted by Threeve at 2:16 PM on August 9, 2019

However, having said that, and having read the new car safety AskMe thread upstairs, I have to agree that all the extra airbags and the backup camera are killer features. I haven't driven anything newer than a 2008 model, but I've been next to countless Uber drivers who haven't been in any accidents, but there have been some near misses that people in larger/older vehicles I've ridden inside have actually crashed into. I mentioned I live on a narrow's a single-lane alley, no sidewalk, brick walls on both sides, several right-angle turns to get to my house, and my neighbors have outdoor furniture. The difference between them making me buy new furniture & not (lots of cameras here, the hood knows who backed over what) has been backup cameras.
posted by saysthis at 2:37 PM on August 9, 2019

Most modes of travel are safer than car travel. Except perhaps cycling, which is only really dangerous because of all the cars.

In the US, more than 32,000 people die and more than 2 million are injured in car crashes each year. In 2017, 783 people died in bike crashes in the US. Higher risks for dying in a bike accident include being a man and drinking alcohol before riding and riding at night.

A parent riding a bike with a kid in a trailer while wearing helmets in a bike lane or on a protected bike path during the day is much safer, statistically, than a kid in a car.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:48 PM on August 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Comparing the total number of fatalities across differing modes of transportation is not meaningful, because people do a lot more driving than cycling. You would have to consider deaths per mile travelled, and by that metric, cars are, if I remember correctly far safer than biking or walking.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 3:10 PM on August 9, 2019 [14 favorites]

Do you count a station wagon as a big hatchback? Volvo V60! Legendary safety reputation. Pricey, though.

because people do a lot more driving than cycling

From the numbers I could quickly google, people drive 340 times more miles than they bike (3.2e12 vs 9.4e9 miles) in the United States. That would be some 270,000 cycling fatalities were the distances traveled the same.
posted by hwyengr at 3:14 PM on August 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

What about a defensive driving course?
posted by Hypatia at 3:25 PM on August 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

In the US, more than 32,000 people die and more than 2 million are injured in car crashes each year. In 2017, 783 people died in bike crashes in the US

And only five people died in 2017 while wingsuit flying, but that doesn't mean that the safest way to travel is to strap your kid into a wingsuit and start BASE jumping. Someone ran the numbers based on some estimates for miles traveled in 2005 and found that “cyclists are either 3.4x or 11.5x as likely to die as motorists, per passenger mile,” depending on which estimates they used.

Sure, if you can do all your biking on a separate bike path, helmets, safety precautions, etc, it'll be nice and safe. If where you end up needing to travel involves long trips on busy roads with narrow shoulders and traveling after, maybe less so. It also depends on how many other people cycle where you are, both for presence of bicycling infrastructure, and for drivers being in the habit of looking for bikes around them.

I say this as someone who has opted not to own a car, and does bike (and bus) almost everywhere. It's got a lot of benefits, but it's not a safety panacea.
posted by JiBB at 3:28 PM on August 9, 2019 [11 favorites]

is a bigger car necessarily safer

No, some large cars are top heavy and corner and brake less well than smaller cars. You could have two cars selling for the same price - with one the money goes into safety features, with the other the money just goes into making the car bigger - the car that's been designed for safety is likely to win in safety tests.
That said if everything else is equal, then the bigger car will have a larger crumple zone.

I don't have the figures for this but I suspect that if you were to compare a bunch of cars of different sizes, at the same price point, the safest models would not be the largest or the smallest but somewhere in the middle.

The biggest bang for the buck in improving safety is just to look at the tyres on your car - buy good quality tyres and replace them well before the tread starts running low. It amazes me the people who buy all kinds of fancy cars and then fit cheap ass tyres on them.
posted by Lanark at 3:51 PM on August 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Given that you don’t drive very much and like the car, I wouldn’t get a new one. Perhaps it would be worth looking at different car seat options to help you feel safer - all car seats sold in the US meet mandated safety requirements, but some exceed them and some have extra side impact protection. You can also be extra careful to make sure your car seat is correctly installed and that your kid is always fastened in correctly (no bulky jackets, straps tight enough, etc).
posted by insectosaurus at 3:57 PM on August 9, 2019

Seriously, you were just in a stressful, life threatening situation. Your anxiety is telling you to get a new car. My best advice is to put the entire question on the shelf for a couple of weeks. That will give you anxiety time to calm down and you will be in a better position to make the best decision possible in the context of both uncertainty and conflicting goals. Whatever the risk of your current car, you have been living for for some time now - a few extra weeks won't make much difference.
posted by metahawk at 4:10 PM on August 9, 2019 [19 favorites]

I mean, yes, your kid is safer in the middle and your current car doesn’t accommodate a car seat in the center. But what if your kid had been twins? You wouldn’t have the option of putting them both in the middle anyway. I’m totally with you on wanting the safest situation possible, but if it helps, consider how many people drive around with kids in the side seats every day.
posted by Knowyournuts at 4:23 PM on August 9, 2019

There is no brake on earth as powerful as a red light and traffic cameras. There is no insurance policy as powerful as a driver hitting a pedestrian in a driver-fault jurisdiction.

I have no idea what you're trying to say, but I live in a place where people routinely tailgate and run red lights, with or without traffic cameras, and I have nearly been hit as a pedestrian in a crosswalk (by a driver who slowed down, waved me into the crosswalk, then sped up as I started crossing!), so ... this framing of relative safety of drivers vs pedestrians depends a lot on what sort of infrastructure and culture you're dealing with, and living in a walkable/transit-oriented area is a privilege at least in the US. I live just 2.5 miles from work but had to stop cycling because of the frankly dangerous bike lanes around here. If I'm lying dead in the street, I don't give a hoot what the at-fault driver's insurance policy states. My survivors might, but I'd rather be alive, thanks.

To answer TFQ, it sounds like you are understandably really shaken, so metahawk's suggestion to put a pin in the question until the immediate trauma has worn off is a good one. For what it's worth, when I used to work in an emergency department, a woman was brought in after a head-on collision in which her car was totaled and the other driver died at the scene. She had just a fairly minor abrasion on her elbow. I asked her what kind of car she had and she said it was a Kia Soul. They are ugly as hell, but at least in that situation, I have no doubt that car saved her life.
posted by basalganglia at 5:03 PM on August 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

Another consideration that no one has mentioned yet is whether you live in a place with snow and ice, and if so, whether winter tires are legally required where you live.

Now, this isn't relevant right now if you're in the Northern Hemisphere, but one of the challenges of ditching your car if you live in a place like this is that you may not be able to rely on car-sharing services or traditional rental cars having winter tires. Having lived in the parts of Canada with icy winters but no winter tire laws, a big motivator for me to own a car for occasional use is that I just do not feel safe driving an unfamiliar-to-me car with crappy all-seasons. That's even the case when we're talking about one of those car2go Mercedes SUVs with fancy electronic stability control. Granted, I don't have children, but I'd feel a lot safer in a car whose handling capabilities I'm familiar with and a good set of tires appropriate for current road conditions.
posted by blerghamot at 6:16 PM on August 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

No car you buy will ever be as safe as not driving at all

Not owning a car, or even not driving at all doesn't mean you won't be a passenger in private transportation driven by non-professional drivers. Not only that, but being a non-driver probably increases the likelihood that you'll be a passenger in other people's cars, and at the mercy of their driving abilities/car safety. Choosing not to drive, for many people, does not mean that they will instead substitute buses or walking as modes of transportation for the same trips for which they would have otherwise used a car. Either they'll use an alternative transportation mode that exposes them to road dangers in similar or worse ways (and yes, this includes cycling in a lot of cases), or they'll just stop making those trips altogether, which has all kinds of negative social and/or economic implications.
posted by blerghamot at 6:21 PM on August 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

The statistics are rather depressing - in a car vs SUV collision you're 10x more likely to die if you're in the car compared to being in the SUV. Here's a study published in NCBI using NHTSA fatality analysis reporting data.

Study findings: Overall, passenger car drivers experienced greater mortality than did SUV drivers, regardless if they were in the struck or striking vehicle (odds ratio: 10.0; 95% confidence interval: 7.9, 12.5).

Two simple reasons why:

1) SUV have their frame / structure ride higher off the ground, so they are at parity against other SUVs and at an advantage versus other cars.
2) SUV have higher mass. In a two vehicle collision between a 1 tonne car and a 2 tonne SUV, only 33% of the impact will be transferred to the SUV, and 66% will be absorbed by the car.
posted by xdvesper at 2:43 AM on August 10, 2019

Context: I live in India, where drivers are much more reckless, safety features nonexistent, and people rarely use seatbelts let alone car seats. I do not drive for various reasons, a major one being anxiety.

That said. You very recently had a very close call. Right now your hindbrain is exaggerating the dangers, which it is especially prone to do when kids are involved. I agree with everyone who is saying to wait a couple of weeks before making any big decisions.

A couple of things to consider re: going car-free:

a) How public transport friendly is where you live? I don't drive in part I live a stone's throw away from two major bus hubs, and I'm rarely out of the house after dinner (bus service here stops at 8 pm).
b) Speaking of climate change, sometimes weather makes public transport impossible. As much as I love walking and biking, if it hits 105F, I'm calling a damn Uber.
c) Grocery shopping is a pain in the ass car-less. It was annoying enough as a young single grad student. I can't even imagine doing so when there's a kid in the equation.
posted by Tamanna at 8:46 AM on August 10, 2019

You can get a safer car, for sure. But your car is not particularly unsafe. No one has mentioned it, but the carbon cost of a making and selling new car is significant, and making a functional older car with decent mpgs go a few more years is extremely carbon efficient. Your child’s long term health interest depends as much on saving the atmosphere. Your car is very fuel efficient, and that’s where some of the crash safety went. That’s a common tradeoff.

I get the post-traumatic anxiety reaction, but I actually think the most rational suggestion in the thread is for you to take a serious defensive driving course with track time. Nothing on earth can contribute more to your safety, which is why your insurance company will give you a discount that may pay for the course. But someone above said the biggest safety feature in a car is an attentive driver, and they were right. Knowing in advance how it feels to hard stop to avoid a collision, how to recover from a skid, how to assess road conditions like an accident analyst, etc. will make you feel more confident whatever you drive, and make you able to survive many situations that routinely kill people who are not so trained. New car or not, if you’ve never taken a serious course (which means time at the wheel, not just in a classroom) it’s gonna be worth it. I’m surprised it has not been recommended more frequently in this thread. You’ll feel much more in control.
posted by spitbull at 4:46 AM on August 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Also just as an aside, a relatively cheap way (compared to a new car) for you to massively improve the safety of your car is to spend money on really good tires, and change them fairly frequently, as well as to use dedicated winter tires if you live where there is snow and ice. Likewise have your brakes assessed and do maintenance on them ahead of when it’s “needed.” Same for shocks/struts. And get the higher end parts if available. A huge percentage of “safety” calculus in a car is how fast you can stop (or accelerate in some cases, but you’re screwed there in an old Versa), and how rarely you lose traction. Keeping the primary systems for those functions in top spec order with premium parts is a very good investment for someone who carries children. Many people forget their tires exist until there’s a problem. If you are diligent already, great. If not, look at premium brand tires. The extra cost is worth it.
posted by spitbull at 4:54 AM on August 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was nearly t-boned just last week making a left-arrow turn as a guy in an Audi S4 coming from the opposite direction decided to run the recent red on his side — at 55mph on an urban divided boulevard in heavy traffic. I had a kid in the car on the passenger side, which would have been where the impact would occur. Halfway through the turn I saw him, right as I was picking up speed and going maybe 20mph. He saw me too and began to cut right to pass in front of me, full brakes and almost skidding sideways. I had time to think — 2 seconds — and fear the very worst. But I’ve had defensive driving training and about a million miles under my belt (and a few accidents in nearly 40 years) so I did not freeze. I cut my car hard left to avoid intersecting his arc and knowing the intersection was clear to my left — because I made a check of it as I turned out of habit — other than a guardrail divider I could afford to slap into at 20mph more than I could bear to afford a 50+ mph side impact. Then I braked hard into a skid to swing my rear end out to absorb the impact before my side doors would.

Dude passed me with inches to spare by skidding right in the opposite direction and into the very on-ramp I had been proceeding to enter. Luckily he was driving a very high performance car and had good skills when he paid attention, as he recovered from the skid and used speed to avoid the wreck his speeding was about to cause. But had I not been able to rationally think and react — had I frozen in terror at a black Audi coming straight at my side — I’d have been seriously hit. I drive a Mazda3 hatchback (IIHS TSP+ and that was a big reason for my decision) but no one walks away unchanged from being t-boned at 55mph. No. One.

Guy drove away fast as f. I pulled over and gathered my wits for a minute. And life went on. Inches further and life might not have gone on. I reanalyzed and second guessed my choices afterwards — I should have realized his speed coming up to the intersection was dangerous even if he meant to stop, but traffic was heavy behind me and the left arrow was short and I decided consciously that he was slowing down enough to confirm an intention to stop. I was wrong. He was looking to see if he could run the light, which had changed several seconds before, and he never saw me start turning.

At no point did I panic. I knew how my car would react if I hurled it hard left and braked full force, and it did exactly what I expected, sticking its ass out to protect me, partly because I’ve taken this car out to its limits in other (safe) situations and tested its reactions to such maneuvers, it mostly because of experience dealing with similar situations. Partly because I drive on expensive Pirellis. But mostly because I did not panic. Had I just stopped cold, I’d be having a very bad summer. And that kind of intuitive reactivity can be learned.
posted by spitbull at 5:18 AM on August 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

You could give yourself some time to think about it and let things settle down while waiting to see if the Tesla model Y strikes a chord. There are some fundamental advantages to "skateboard" electric cars that can allow better safety than regular cars, and Tesla gives a high priority to using that (and more) to make extremely safe cars. Their model Y is an upcoming compact crossover hatchback, about $45k.
posted by anonymisc at 4:46 PM on August 11, 2019

Rather than get a ‘safer’ car (which are generally safer for occupants but deadlier to pedestrians, cyclists, scooters, skaters, etc)
I cannot imagine a mechanism whereby better crumple zones, air bags, and a stronger passenger compartment are more dangerous to pedestrians. Can you expand on that?
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 6:09 PM on August 11, 2019

Seconding Hypatia. It won't help you if someone runs a red light, but that's not the only type of accident. None of us are as competent behind the wheel as most of us think we are.

The research I dug up (and have since lost) showed that mindset is more important than skill. That is, for example, it's better to drive in such a way as to avoid a skid than to know how to recover from one (not least because the training for skid recovery occurs under contrived circumstances). The private lessons I took as a young driver emphasized mindset (in particular, active anticipation) in a way that has stayed with me for 25 years.

So get a safer car sure, but safe driving isn't innate. You can always become better at it.
posted by klanawa at 8:37 PM on August 11, 2019

I would suggest getting a new car. Most cars have more safety features now than the average car from 9 years ago.

We have one car with a backup camera and one without, and I strongly wish both had it given that we have small children and children die every year when they get hit in the blind spot directly behind a car.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:45 AM on August 12, 2019

You can no longer buy a new passenger car on the US that does *not* have a backup camera, fwiw. Truly a great safety innovation.
posted by spitbull at 6:47 AM on August 12, 2019

I missed an earlier answer that also recommended buying top quality tires — my bad. Whenever I have new tires I spend several weeks telling myself “wow I got a new car for $800.” Your old tires fade so incrementally that you get used to adjusting for the slow loss of grip and sharpness and don’t notice it unless it gets extreme.

My other thought is that being an “attentive driver” cannot just be achieved by will. It’s a series of learned habits that prevent road hypnosis, momentary distraction, or loss of situational awareness. And fear, while rational whenever piloting several tons of metal at highway speeds, is no less dangerous than complacency, encouraged by our ever more capable and luxurious cars and frequently the enemy at slower speeds or on familiar roads. Fearful drivers who are fully alert (hyperalert) cause many accidents, if perhaps not as many as reckless or inattentive ones, braking when they don’t need to, for example, at highway entrance ramps. Recent brushes with danger or traumatic past accidents can heighten that hyperalert state, which can also be mentally exhausting to maintain over longer distances.
posted by spitbull at 7:34 AM on August 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

A backup camera is a dead simple thing to add to any car (EG: Best Buy does it for US$130). The kits are around $200.
posted by Mitheral at 2:51 PM on August 12, 2019

That is, for example, it's better to drive in such a way as to avoid a skid than to know how to recover from one (not least because the training for skid recovery occurs under contrived circumstances).

Good defensive driving courses teach you both. Because you cannot avoid all situations. It’s like saying you should know never to go near a bear in the woods, but bears sometimes go near you. So you should also know how to use bear spray. And have it. Even if you’re beautifully trained in avoiding bears

And of course all training is under “contrived conditions,” but the counterintuitive physics of recovering from a skid don’t change from test pad to parking lot to icy interstate, and experience with controlling traction loss in any situation beats no experience, precisely because your brain and body tell you precisely the wrong move to make out of intuition, so you need to consciously override that instinctive reaction in a split second. Practice it half a dozen times and you will be way ahead of most drivers.

Those of us who learned to drive before modern traction control technology was a thing had to learn this stuff early and often. Now many younger drivers have never experienced a true loss of control.
posted by spitbull at 5:51 AM on August 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

I cannot imagine a mechanism whereby better crumple zones, air bags, and a stronger passenger compartment are more dangerous to pedestrians. Can you expand on that?

More massive cars and taller cars (like SUVs) are more dangerous to pedestrians.
posted by metasarah at 9:44 AM on August 14, 2019

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