What Car Should You Buy for Your Teenage Driver?

Buying a car for a brand new teenage driver is an important decision. Most parents will hand over their older model family vehicle or look for an older model car or truck for their teen driver. It makes sense, as older cars are usually the cheaper options, both for the vehicle itself and for insurance. Some parents also look for smaller cars the get the best gas mileage. Smaller cars tend to be easier to operate because of a smaller turning radius.

But, beware! Old and small cars are not always the best option for teenager drivers.

"A study published in December of 2014 found at least half of teen driver deaths between 2008 and 2012 occurred in vehicles 11 years or older, and in about a third of those deaths, those vehicles were smaller. The study shows that newer, bigger vehicles equipped with the latest safety features are safer.

Two Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) researchers studied teen driver deaths reported by the government's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) between 2008 and 2012, finding that nearly half of drivers (48%) 15 to 17 years old who died in car accidents drove cars that were at least 11 years old. 82% of teens killed in car wrecks were in cars that were at least 6 years old. The report also found from a 2014 parent survey that 60% of all teen drivers (ages 15-19) drove vehicles that were over 6 years old. The grim numbers demonstrate the obvious: that teens overwhelmingly drive older, smaller cars."

Realistically, parents today just don't have the resources to get their teen drivers the newest, safest vehicles. This is magnified by the fact that it takes years for safety equipment to become standard in vehicles. Older used cars probably wouldn't have those options, yet. "Generally, it takes about 30 years between the introduction of a safety feature and when that safety feature is found in 95% or more of the cars on the road."

The recommendations on teen vehicle choice are guided by four main principles:

  • Young drivers should stay away from high horsepower.Vehicles with more powerful engines can tempt them to test the limits.
  • Bigger, heavier vehicles protect better in a crash. There are no minicars or small cars on the IIHS recommended list for teens. Small SUVs are included because their weight is similar to that of a midsize car.
  • ESC (Electronic Stability Control) is worth the expense. ESC is a system found on recent vehicles that will help you stay in control of your vehicle when you need to swerve or brake suddenly to avoid an obstacle. This feature, which helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads, reduces risk on a level comparable to safety belts. Research the model you are purchasing to see if EFC is on the car.
  • Vehicles should have the best safety ratings possible. At a minimum, that means good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front test, acceptable ratings in the IIHS side crash test and four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

If you or someone who is close to you has been injured in a vehicle accident in Nebraska or Western Iowa, call Burnett Legal Group at (402) 810-8611 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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