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Why are we so afraid?

There are several recent threads, and some topics in general, that have me wondering why we are so afraid of the world around us. The question of whether a 4 or 6 cylinder is better for defensive driving. The thread about restoring a '65 Triumph and how it’s not a safe car for a teenager to drive. The topic of exploding air bags. The general worry about it not being wise to replace a transmission in a 10 year old car because putting that money toward a newer one with more airbags and traction control would be a safer choice for the babies in the back. The thought that it’s better to send your teen to college in a new car than the 15 year old hand-me-down because she’s more likely to survive a crash in a new car.

When did the idea of safety take precedence over practicality, affordability, comfort, and fun? Why are we so preoccupied with safety and security to the point we ignore or deny ourselves what we want and like?

Your daughter is interested in cars and wants an old Triumph? Go for it, she’ll have fun. Your son is happy driving the 95 Accord and instead of putting money towards a car wants to use the funds for a travel abroad semester. Great! Your 15 year old wagon needs a transmission but doesn’t have side airbags? It’s no less safe now than when you bought it new. You worry about your ignition switch failing or airbag shrapnel? What are the chances?

Why worry about things that have such a miniscule chance of happening? There are many, many unfortunate things that may befall us in this world, most of which aren’t the slightest bit related to how safe we think our cars are.

Hear Hear! Well said!

I like motorcycles. They are more dangerous than a car. Life’s short, Ride hard!

Because I love my daughter with all my heart and want her well protected from the nuts on the road. Same goes for my son. I realize that the old Brit ragtops are a blast. I love 'em. But I love my kids even more.

Sorry ASE, I agree that the ol’ ragtops are great memory makers, but if I were choosing a car for one of my kids, I’d opt for something much newer and safer. In truth, my kids are adults now and make their own choices, but it wasn’t always that way. Hopefully they’re smart enough to not buy a half century old ragtop as a daily driver. Hopefully if they want ragtop fun they’ll buy a Miata. Actually, my son went with a new Audi, but you get the idea.


Why are parents worried about the cars their kids drive ?
Cars made within the last twenty years are much safer. The death rate for these cars was much higher. As far as a 65 triumph being a good driver for a teenage girl, someone has to be pulling my leg. They weren’t good drivers for any poorly prepared person when they were new ! Why be concerned ? Mainly because I don’t want a call in the late evening that this totally unreliable car is broken down somewhere or involved in a crash. Maybe to you it’s just an adventure.

I had a neighbor who thought exactly as you are stating. Why be afraid …let the kids drive sports cars and motorcycles and ATV.s In a span of five years, two of Three sons were killed, one in a Corvette crash and one in a motorcycle accident…just being teens. You may chalk it up to bad luck. I chalk it up to permissiveness and being unwilling to think logically about kids and cars.

Teen drivers and unsafe, unreliable toys as cars don’t mix. As a teacher for nearly forty years, we averaged a kid a year dying in car crashes in the systems I worked in…most all were doing dumb things with cars and the majority were a direct result of over permissiveness with the use of cars.

Those of you who lost a teenage son or daughter in a car accident know how devastating it is the rest of your life. Parents carry the guilt with them their entire lives. These are kids in my classes who were here one day and gone the next, never to be seen again. Few if any were unavoidable.

Teen driving laws are becoming more strict…fortunately those responsible for rethinking dangerous driving situations for teens and adding more restrictions think differently. With all due respect, Your logic defies logic.

If you have kids fairly recently, you probably saw the movie about the fish Nemo. After the tragic loss of the mother, the father becomes overly protective of his son. At one point the father says “I promised nothing would ever happen to him” to which another fish quips “sounds like a boring life for junior”…

I have to agree with asemaster. Personally, I’ve never sweated for one minute about what could happen based on the mode of transportation. When I worked for Nissan I commuted 50 miles a day in an old '69 VW Beetle and while working for another dealer with a 170 miles a day commute it was usually a motorcycle or an old beater Subaru that I bought from someone who declined repairs.

The flip side to older, unsafe cars is that many of the public now is brainwashed into thinking they’re 10 feet tall and bulletproof due to SRS, ABS, stability control, multiple cupholders, etc, etc.

A year or two ago when we here in OK got hit with tornados and very heavy flooding a perfect example of the above was shown on the local news one night at 10 P.M.

An intersection was 3-4 feet deep in water with a dozen stalled vehicles scattered out there. A lady drove her new Jeep Liberty through it and stalled as she exited the lake.
The news reporter walked over and asked what happened. She said it was “out of gas”.
The incredulous news reporter asked her again if it might be due to the engine flooding out and if she realized how dangerous it was to drive through fast running water that deep.

“No, the water is not a problem. This is a Jeep Liberty and I’ve got 4WD…” as her teenage son whom she endangered looked on. The death toll in that storm was about 18 as it was… :frowning:

What I would have loved to have heard is the conversation at the dealer the next day when that POS was towed in and she was told the warranty was null and void. I can hear her now…

I work in the ICU, have been doing this for 10+ years. I have a skewed view of the world. I have seen too many of these decisions go bad. Many times other people suffer. A few days ago a big truck “forgot” to stop at the red light and rear-ended a Camry and one child in the rear died and the other was in critical condition. Maybe if they were in a big hunky SUV, they would fare better. I can’t stop thinking about these stuff when I see it every day.

Nonetheless, I try to be as level-head as I can be. I teach my daughter defensive driving, my wife still drives a Camry because it is more practical for her. But when I see a HS kid driving brand new Camaro SS, or a 3 series BMW or a lifted F-250, I can’t help but think there is poor parenting behind those choices.

I have taken care if a few young patients in the ICU/hospital for 3+ months and then when they were ready to be discharged, they were taken to prison with handcuffs; I have seen the regret in the parents’ face. You can easily say that I am afraid.

I think it came in with helicopter parents. I can’t tell why but I can pin point when. At least at work everyone became extremely afraid of everything-doors locked, no fumes anywhere, safety safety safety. You must be safe. Wear helmets, protective clothing. Don’t risk anything. Funny but it wasn’t too many years before that and all the kids were being sent to Nam to be shot at and no one seemed to care. Then all of a sudden a wet floor was a terrible safety problem. Of course they didn’t think too much about the drugs they were taking and how safe they were. I think it was mainly the generation born in the 60s for some reason. Just my personal observation.

Teen driving laws are becoming more strict…fortunately those responsible for rethinking dangerous driving situations for teens and adding more restrictions think differently.

My state really tightened up teen driving laws a few years ago. I don’t remember the particulars, but I think a study showed a marked decline in injuries and fatalities in the 16-19 year old range. Followed by a marked increase in injuries and fatalities in the 20-22 yer old range. It’s not the age of the driver. It’s the experience.

I don’t think that laws are going to make teens safer drivers. You can’t legislate good sense. And I think that no measure of safety devices is going to compensate for poor behavior. Thinking back to my high school years we lost at least one or two kids a year, some just dumb luck but many avoidable. I don’t think any car safety device would have stopped the loose semi wheel from bouncing through the windshield of Sylvia’s Subaru Brat and killing her. I don’t think any safety mechanism would have kept Seung from drinking 8 beers and driving the wrong way on the freeway, killing himself and 2 innocent people in another car. John would probably still have overloaded his moped and not been able to stop at the red light at the bottom of the hill. I would never rely on any kind of safety device or measure to protect me from these things. Nor will I discourage my kids from riding a moped, driving a small car, or going to parties. On the contrary, I think sometimes seeing the damage and carnage stupid decisions or just bad luck can cause will encourage more careful behavior.

Yes, I feel terrible for the family who was rear-ended by a semi and lost a child, another seriously injured. But the injury and death was caused by the semi, not by the presence or absence of safety devices or the size of the car. And the chances of any one person being rear-ended by a semi are negligible. Yet people will buy a car for protection in just that circumstance, when it’s never going to happen to them.

My kids are young. I don’t want them to be afraid of the world. I want them to learn how to be safe in it. And padding them with seat belts and airbags and collision avoidance devices doesn’t teach anyone how to be safe. I think it does the opposite.

I don’t worry as much as some on here. I don’t think the Crown Victoria is a good car because it’s a tank. But there have been massive advances in vehicular safety in the last fifty years, and British roadsters, with their weak bodies and tricky handling were among the least safe cars her they were new. For a mature adult who understands the risks and is willing to learn how the car works, buying an old Triumph as a weekend fun car could be fine. That’s very different from giving one to a young driver who has never driven anything similar, especially if it will be used as a daily driver. Not a good idea unless you’re also willing to send the young driver to an appropriate driving school where they will learn how to operate such a car safely. And even then I’d only do it if the person was unusually responsible. If they are used to driving while bopping along to music, sipping a latte, and retrieving voice-mail, forget about it. Cars of that sort need the driver’s full attention. They aren’t forgiving and the lack of safety gear makes the consequences of a wreck potentially far worse (especially in a roadster.)

I get what @asemaster is saying but I also know several people who have become more safety conscious after losing loved ones in car accidents. A friend of ours who lost his wife in a rear end collision (66 Mustang) became somewhat overprotective of his then 3yr old adoptive daughter who was also in the car but survived unharmed. When it was time for the daughter to learn to drive he bought a new Subaru Forester so she could learn on a car that was safe but not at big as the previous Toyota 4Runner he owned. Ended up giving her the Forester and buying a Impreza for himself. Another friend buys big cars for him and his wife (a string of Cadillac’s) after losing his 1st wife many years before in an accident.

January 1st 2015 will be the first anniversary of the day my friend and co-worker Alex Petermann drove into a tree at 60-80mph in his late 80’s Mazda Pickup. On a particular stretch of road there is a s-bend to the road with a 30mph limit, he was believed to be doing at least double that. No idea if alcohol was actually involved.

My brother and I learned to drive on whatever my parents had in the fleet at that time. My brother learned on a then 10yr old Vw Rabbit and later I ended up taking my test in the 1988 Plymouth Grand Voyager since it was an Automatic and my stick shift skills weren’t the best at that point. The teen car was the 1970 Datsun 510 Wagon that mom bought new so it was 19yrs old when it was pressed into teen driving service. The Volvo 144 bought from the grandparents would have been used but without Power Steering or Brakes our Dad felt it wouldn’t be such a great first car.

Safety wasn’t the only reason i bought my '15 Forester but having ESC,Airbags,and great visibility along with a practical comfortable method of transportation doesn’t hurt. You can still have fun and enjoy life while taking a few reasonable precautions. Yes you never had to worry about this stuff before but now we do.

Driving an older so-called unsafe car is not always as bad as thought. Some years back an automotive performance shop here had a slick 1952 MG TD for sale much like the one in the Chevy Chase movie “Funny Farm”. Some guy came in one afternoon and wanted to take it for a quick test run before purchase and the shop agreed.

The guy took off foot on the floor and less than 3 blocks later plowed into a Crown Vic police cruiser that was sitting at a traffic light. He hit the cop car at an estimated 65 MPH and walked out of it with only minor scratches while both cops were carried to the hospital with neck and back injuries.

It was then discovered the guy was drunk on vodka and no one caught it before the test drive. I saw that Crown Vic at the body shop and the rear bumper was shoved clean up into the back seat while the MG was mangled almost beyond recognition.

A friend was with me when I broadsided a Chevy pickup in my '59 Corvette at about 50 MPH. The Corvette was absolutely demolished and both of us crawled out of the windows with not even one tiny scratch or bruise in spite of not even wearing the lap belts.

There are irrational fears (like worrying about zombies) and rational fears. Driving a car as a teenager is the most dangerous thing they will ever likely do. So a parent wanting a safer car makes a LOT of sense. The death rate in the '60s was about 10 TIMES what it is today, and teens are much more likely to have an accident.

And I’m a big fan of not worrying too much. There was a great documentary “Are We Scaring Ourselves to Death?” It was by John Stossel, and it showed how many of our fears are waaaaay overdone.

I agree that we sometimes take our fears too far but there are reasons we do. An acquaintance of mine (his son was in my daughter’s class in high school) wanted to buy his son a vehicle just after he received his driver’s license. He looked at my '70 Nova SS that I was selling and I advised him to get a newer vehicle and one that was not quite as powerful. I sold the Nova because my 16 year old son (unlicensed) found the keys and was during burnouts on a back street while my wife and I were at work. I found out from the police when they found him. The acquaintance finally bought a '67 Chevelle SS and gave it to his son. A couple of days later…on a lonely Maine highway…the son and his friend were killed when the SS went off the road and wrapped around a tree. My daughter had to settle for a new Dodge Colt and my son had to drive a Jeep truck…4 cylinder of course.

Let’s be real here. I understand we don’t want to take away our children’s sense of adventure and the wonder of life. When you go kayaking or rock climbing there is an inherent risk just as there is in driving. Would you have your kids go kayaking in white water without a helmet or life jacket or have them climb a cliff without ropes and safety harness just to make sure you weren’t overprotective? We all did crazy dangerous things as kids and young adults because it was the norm or we didn’t know better. Now that we know better and have access to better protection it is silly and dangerous to turn our backs on safety features for us and our loved ones because we are so convinced that we are great drivers and we are better off without safety features. The statistics don’t lie. Anecdotal evidence to the contrary, the statistics show that driving continues to get safer and safer. I contend that it is NOT because drivers are better than they have ever been.

I for one am glad my kids drive cars with ABS, airbags and seat belts. I have taught them (hopefully) to be good drivers. No amount of safety equipment (or lack thereof) is a substitute for teaching our children to be good drivers and to help them pass that along to future drivers.

I would feel much safer if my daughter was driving my 75 supercab instead of a smart car , metro, mini cooper or other compact.

people can t even survive with out a cell phone these days. well, they can, but are scared to cross the street without it.

on the other hand, when I was a kid, strangers would be much more likely to help you than harm you .

Afraid of using better thread titles?

My neighbor has a restored MGB in OSU orange and his 16 year old daughter wanted to drive it to school. He gave her a modern 5 star rated 4 door sedan to drive. Within the first two weeks of having a license she rear ended a semi truck totaling the car but she is fine… You may call him afraid but I call it responsible parenting.

Seat belts are for wimps.

A friend said that one night when 4 of us got into a car. He said that as everyone in the car fastened their seat belts but him. He said when your time is up, you die. Why delay it with wimpy seat belts? A couple years later, I crested a hill below the speed limit and found a car stopped there for no obvious reason. I slammed on the brakes yet still hit the car in front of me. I am sure I would have hit the steering wheel and may well have been killed by the chest impact. 40 years later, my chest still feels fine, and I am prover grateful for having a seat belt.

The media and consumer movement have blurred the distinction between real and irrational fears and dangers. It’s all about perception now. The other factor is the complete elimination of personal responsibility in owning and operation a piece of equipment.

If Jimmy Carter had been re-elected we would have had RUBBER BLADED LAWNMORS. It’s all about protected people from themselves.

At this time, however, more people die needlessly in hospitals because of sloppy care than die in car accidents; more than twice as much, in fact!

School boards have to coddle and cushion kids so they can’t possibly hurt themselves, lest they be sued by neurotic parents.

Some of us like to climb mountains and go hiking in bear country, just for the hell of it. But we are told that we do so at our own risk, which is fine with me.