If your teenager has just gotten a driver’s license, it may be hard to imagine handing over the keys to your brand new car, but that may be the smartest vehicle to choose.
However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) say there is something worried parents can do to protect their teens — choose a safe vehicle.
- Avoid vehicles that encourage reckless driving. Teen drivers not only lack experience, but may also lack maturity. As a result, speeding and reckless driving are common. When you are picking a vehicle for your teen, avoid sports cars or other vehicles with high performance features that could encourage speeding or other reckless driving.
- Do not let your teen drive an unstable vehicle. Sport utility vehicles, especially the smaller ones, are inherently less stable than cars because of their higher centers of gravity. Abrupt steering maneuvers — the kind that can occur when teens are distracted or over-correcting a driver error — can be more likely to cause rollovers. A more stable car would, at worst, skid or spin out.
- Pick a vehicle that offers good crash protection. Teenagers should drive vehicles that offer state-of-the-art protection in case they do crash.
- Do not let your teen drive a small vehicle. Small vehicles offer much less protection in crashes than larger ones. However, this does not mean you should put your child in the largest vehicle you can find. Many mid- and full-size cars offer more than adequate crash protection. Check out the safety ratings for mid-size and larger cars.
- Avoid older vehicles. Most of today’s cars are better designed for crash protection than cars of six to ten years ago. For example, a newer, mid-size car with airbags would be a better choice than an older, larger car without airbags. Before you make a final choice on the car your teenager will drive, consult the U.S. Department of Transportation or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.