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As a retiring 65 year old former Air Force fighter pilot and Airline pilot, now teaching computer integrations, I have noticed that, ever so slightly my reflexes have been slowing down with age. Not the spring chicken any longer running down Rt. 128 in my 1963 black Dodge Daht (spelled “Dart”) convertible, (yeah, I had one, too, back in my college days at Tufts),my wife and I have been looking into safe sedans for our retirement years. The television hype is extraordinary and confusing, with rollover ads, people falling asleep behind the wheel, etc.

In your opinion, knowing how cars are designed and engineered, and seeing the technology evolve of the past, as well as seeing what vehicles have kept up with, or innovated safer technology, what do you recommend I REALLY look for in a sedan that, today, will best keep me, my passengers, and others on the road safer. Volvo, Mercedes, Saab, Jeep, Hyundai, all advertise safety; but I want to get past the advertisement and the hype.

Take a look at the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) crash test results. They are still a bit more stringent than the government tests.

ALL current model cars are EXTREMELY safe, especially when compared to cars of even 10 or 15 years ago.

Mercedes and Volvo cars were safer than all others thirty years ago. Now they are no better or no worse than average.

Someone should suggest the video (I believe it is from the BBC) of a modern Renault mini car using a 1990 Volvo 960 as a “crumple zone”. Turned the Swede into an accordion.

I also meant to add that the most important safety device is the nut located directly behind the steering wheel!!!

If I were going to drive my car into a concrete retaining wall at 45 MPH, the best sedan for that purpose is probably a Crown Vic or a Grand Marquis…If you managed to survive the '63 Dart which had no brakes and no seat belts, I would buy the sedan you LIKE the best and accept it’s ability to protect you as being adequate…In today’s air-bag world, nit-picking safety features is not a sound car buying strategy. If you are that worried of being killed in a car wreck you should just stop driving…You want to worry about something? Go get a PSA test…

Every new model on sale today is LOADED with safety features we couldn’t have dreamed of years ago. Even the cheapest new car is probably “safer” than the most advanced car of twenty years ago.

I think you’re worrying too much. Go car shopping, find a few models you LIKE, and choose among them. You’ll be perfectly safe.

If you get hit by a semi it won’t make any difference anyway.

When did Jeep start making sedans?

The most important safety tool for any car is the nut behind the wheel I would much rather drive with the best (safest) driver in the least safe car made today, than to be in the safest car made today with a poor, distracted, or impaired (drunk) driver.

Since you have brought up the question of driver ability, I suggest that you do as I have done. My wife and my children all have written instructions from me to take the keys away if they feel I am not able to safely drive. I should add that I did disconnect the battery cable in her father’s car to keep him from driving. The police had already taken his license away and told him he would end up in jail if he was caught driving. It was a small town and I also informed the car dealer of our wishes.

The others are right. Pretty much anything you buy today is going to be safe. You’ll have to get in a truly horrific wreck to be killed or seriously injured. Even the least-safe car sold in the USA must meet very stringent safety requirements. Most go much further than the already high minimum.

So go out and get what you like. From a safety standpoint, you’ll be fine.

BTW, what’d you fly?

F-4D,E’s, F-104, and F-105’s, T-38’s as an Instructor, B-373 and B-727’s, L-1011.
The reason I asked the question is that advertising, although informative, can be misleading to the extent that the objective is to sell the car. I realize that I am slowing down, probably to to my previous professions; other “baby-boomers” on the road today haven’t realized this yet. I was almost rear-ended by a baby-boomer in a Buick Lucerne that was programming their song selection on their up front control panel and was slow to recognise that I had stopped for a red light. Locked brakes squealing (ABS?) was the only thing that alerted me to the possibility of a possible impending crash (that in reality didn’t happen…barely!).
When the time comes (as my children know) I will hang up the keys, but until then I will look after myself…its the other guy I am concerned about.

That’s B-737’s not 373’s.

The reference was to safety advertising…I;m looking only to purchase a sedan.

I agree concerning the “nut behind the wheel”…my concern is that while i recognize I am slowing down, the other baby-boomers of my generation have not. The other “nut” may be my age trying to figure out how his GPS works and with slowed reaction time fails to recognize an unsafe situation, AND is much slower to respond to it than a 35-year old.

Likewise, my children and grandchildren have specific instructions concerning my driving safety.

I know what you mean about reflexes slowing down, good ‘Raymond’ episode on that. As for car safety, here’s a site that combines the various safety data and statistics in a way that results in rankings that are comparable between cars and car classes (some of the government rankings are not):

Thank you for the informative web site; I really appreciate it.

You flew some gems there. I’ve always been partial to the F-104 (and anything else built by the Skunkworks) and the -27.

Yeah, you’re right entirely - advertising is going to deceive you. I can’t remember the last time I even bothered to pay attention to an ad. At most it will alert me that something new is out there that I might want, and then spur me to go research it. Even “Safety King Volvo” is not immune to it. They ran ads awhile back showing the crush resistance of their cars. Only trouble was, they reinforced the hell out of the car they used in the ad, and a regular Volvo wouldn’t have passed the test they put it to.

For the record, I’m not terribly worried about whether or not you will hang up the keys when it’s time. Pilots tend to be better about such things than ordinary mortals :wink:

Most cars today will be very safe, especially a brand new one. So about the only real choice is which one feels comfortable to you.
For aging knees(you don’t have to be retirement age to have bum knees), a smaller SUV/crossover will offer better entrance and exit than a low slung Honda Accord or Civic. They will also offer a bit easier loading and unloading of cargo as well. And the suspension should be a bit softer than some sedans.
While my CX-7 has a sport tuned suspension, it doesn’t really feel like it. But after driving a Honda Civic for 8 years prior, it’s kinda hard to really tell

how much are you willing to spend?

just search - safest sedan - here is one web site…
To quote from the article…

“The safest car in the world is one that never leaves the garage. How safe a vehicle is depends a lot on the way it’s driven.”

F-4s, F-104s, F-105s? Wow. That brings back memories. I studied the flight control and stability systems on all of those (only it was the F-4C) back in 1970.

Well, from a design engineering standpoint, there have been a number of Ferrarri Enzo’s totalled and every driver has walked away unscathed. So I guess that would make a Ferrarri Enzo one of the safest cars on the road.

Seriously, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is the recognized authority on crashworthiness.

Thanks for your service, by the way.

Get a vehicle with plenty of air bags. You will then more likely live through a car crash as compared to an airplane crash which would pay for the farm.

Think big - really big. Larger vehicles fare better in crashes than smaller ones. The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) has data for payouts from all major and most minor insurers in the US. The link shows the data for 2007-2009. It is normalized to 100. Anything less than 100 is better than average. Large cars tend to be better than small cars, and SUVs tend to be better than cars. Look at bodily injury. That tabulates injuries to the people in your car. The best cars are Lexus LS 460, Audi A6 Quatto, Infiniti M35 AWD, BMW 5-series AWD, and the M35 2WD. Of course, drivers are a large part of the equation, too.