The Chevy Volt was recently chosen as the top safety pick. It has an (albeit) optional forward collision monitoring system that alerts drivers if they are close to hitting another object. In addition, it has been voted a "best buy" when compared to other cars in it's class. Safety is my number one priority when purchasing a new or using car.
When I am looking for a car safety is always my number one pick. I have 3 kids and the most important factor is keeping them safe. If a car looks good but will not give me piece of mind then it is not worth it. I need to feel that my family is safe at all times.
Safety is an important part of any vehicle purchase. People typically won't willingly buy a vehicle with a poor safety rating or bad track record. However, it is only one of many considerations. Most vehicles are relatively safe, but can differ wildly on gas mileage ratings. Since gas mileage ratings have a direct and immediate impact on the pocketbook, it's a more important consideration.
While its nice that the Volt's top in safety, the fact that affording one or any other car which shows up on these safety lists is a pipe dream makes its ranking moot. Until I, and scores like me, can afford the outrageous lease or financing costs associated with getting a car, then anything besides a used, gas guzzling car of old will be a luxury