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So, your teen is ready for their first vehicle. As a parent, you understand the freedom that driving a vehicle supplies. You’re also aware of the fact that different cars bring different pros and cons, and some may not be the best choice for your son or daughter. So, what is the best way to direct you and your young driver’s shopping considerations? Keep safety top-of-mind. Consider these following factors when preparing to purchase the best car for teen drivers.
Identifying the Best Car for Teen Drivers
1. Everyone loves power
Let’s face it: cars that deliver optimum performance are downright fun. But they are best left in the hands of experienced drivers, individuals who have several years of driving behind them and appreciate the responsibility cars with robust horsepower supply.
When teens finish college and enter the world of work, they will have had years of driving experience behind them. That is when it is entirely appropriate for them to consider another type of vehicle.
2. Size (and weight) matters
The smaller the vehicle, the more likely your teen will be seriously injured in an accident. It does not matter if the vehicle comes wrapped in a safety cage, has 10 airbags or has driver-assist technologies, such as lane keep assist. What matters most is the vehicle’s size and weight.
Indeed, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) acknowledges the appeal of such microcars as the Smart ForTwo, particularly for cost and gas saving reasons. But IIHS tests and those conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that the law of physics prevails, especially when a small vehicle meets a larger object, such as a midsize car.
“We recommend that parents not consider vehicles smaller than midsize cars, or the typical small SUV — vehicles in these two classes are typically close to the same weight,” explained Russ Rader, Senior Vice President, Communications, IIHS.
3. Consider vehicle crash worthiness
Beyond size and weight, there is another factor to consider: crash test scores. The IIHS, for example, rates most cars based on several factors, then assigns an overall rating. These factors include front, side, roof strength and head restraints. The NHTSA also assigns scores, although it does not go as deep as the Institute with its ratings.
Certain recommended models achieve the Institute’s Top Safety Pick or better designation, while all must have electronic stability control, which helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle on wet surfaces and curves. A suite of airbags, including side airbags, is also a must when considering the best cars for teen drivers.
4. Know your budget
Budget considerations are a tremendous factor in any purchase decision. Fortunately, choosing a used vehicle does not necessarily mean making compromises to find something you can afford.
To that end, the IIHS searched the Kelley Blue Book database for “ Best Choices ” vehicles starting under $20,000 and “ Good Choices ” vehicles for under $10,000. What they found were dozens of acceptable vehicles costing as little as $2,000, or well within the budget of most consumers.
Practice Safe Driving Habits
Finally, as parents, we must always practice what we preach when behind the wheel ourselves. A 2014 survey concluded that some parents need much work: Some even try to call their teens even though they know they’re driving, and teens with parents who partake in distracted driving are up to four times as likely to do the same. Become a model driver with these 3 ways to sharpen your safe-driving skills .
You’ve already begun researching the best car for your teen driver. Why not check out the best insurance options as well? Head over to DriversEd.com’s Car Insurance Resource Center to learn more about keeping your insurance rates low, the difference between learners permits and licenses as they relate to insurance costs, and even sign up for a free car insurance quote.