Do You Care About Car Safety Ratings?

Malibu vs Belair Crash
Screenshot: Jalopnik, IIHS YouTube

Erin dropped this question in Slack last night and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Since I started driving, I’d be that less than half, and probably substantially less than half of my driving has been done in cars that were less than 20 years old. There were years, recent years, where I put a thousand miles or so on a car with no seatbelts or even doors. But I have kids now and have in non-driving areas of my life, become obsessed with safety, at least their safety.


But, I specifically bought an old Lexus to haul them on road trips, which is safe, but not like, the safest car on the road. At least I assume it’s not, I didn’t look at safety ratings at all before I bought it. In fact, now that I think about it, I’ve never looked at them.

A few years ago, I visited Volvo, got a rundown of their whole philosophy on safety, watched a crash test, looked at previously-crashed cars and talked to some safety-obsessed engineers. I was absolutely floored, and then I went back not really ever thinking about it. I don’t think I could tell you the crash test rating of a single car I’ve driven, ever. Maybe I should...

I think I know where the average Jalopnik reader will come down on this, but what about you? Do you crash around in half rusted hoopty with no seatbelts and mismatched tires? Or do you obsessively read and research, watch the slo-mo videos and debrief the crash-test dummies before deciding which vehicle to trust the lives of you and yours? Do you know how many airbags your car has, where the crumple zones are? Do you know what happens if you slide into a pole at 80 mph? Do you care about safety ratings?

Jalopnik EIC '48 Willys CJ-2A, '84 Porsche 911, '15 VW GTI, '07 Lexus GX 470.



Yes and no.

I have 3 kids, so anything that they’ll be riding in must have excellent safety ratings for me to purchase.

At the same time, I ride motorcycles and own a MGB, which is essentially a soda can on wheels. I don’t ride or drive the MG as much as I used to though, and have been thinking of selling both.

I had the bad luck of seeing a pretty awful motorcycle accident (some fool in a Tahoe running a red light), and I don’t think I’ll ever forget seeing what remained of the rider. I don’t want to leave my kids without a father, especially in that fashion.