Helping your new driver take to the road safely can certainly be nerve-racking, but the time and effort you put into a little research can greatly increase your teen’s odds of avoiding a severe accident.
If you’re looking for a suitable car for a novice, leverage safety technology to stack the deck in your favor. Large, slow “beaters” may be your first instinct, but they’re not actually optimal. Many older cars lack safety features that can reduce accident frequency and severity. These newer safety technologies can help compensate for inexperience and most are available in newer used cars.
Size Does Matter – and So Does a Good Track Record
Check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s crash ratings tests to see which models perform best. You’ll notice none of the top-rated vehicles are small cars – studies have shown a high incidence of teen driver fatalities in small cars.
While small cars are associated with elevated injuries and fatalities, vehicles with room for several passengers can also present a major risk. Driver distraction is a serious problem for teens, and accident statistics show that teen drivers with multiple passengers experience a higher percentage of accidents than peers with no or only one passenger.
Pickups, some vans and SUVs can tip and roll more easily than vehicles with a lower center of gravity. In addition, a taller vehicle presents more surface area for strong winds to affect. You should also be aware that some SUVs have performed poorly in impact crashes testing roof strength.
Hold the Horses!
High-performance vehicles with high-power engines and teen drivers are a bad combination. It’s far too easy for an inexperienced driver to over-accelerate in challenging situations. Fast cars are also exciting, and many teens have simply not matured enough to let safety considerations outweigh the thrill of a fast ride.
The first and best defense your teen driver has is you. They’ll pick up their driving and vehicle maintenance habits by watching you. So practice good driving habits and maintain your vehicles well to help your teen be safe, not a statistic.
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