What Are the Safest Cars for Your Teenager?

Giving a teenager the keys to a vehicle and watching them drive away has to be one of the most satisfying and terrifying moments in a parent’s life. While you are incredibly proud of your teen driver, you also are aware of the dangers and risks of driving. 

Car accidents continue to be the leading cause of teen deaths in the United States. During 2018, 2,121 people were killed in automobile accidents involving teen drivers.

Approximately 285,000 teenagers were treated in emergency rooms that year for injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents.  

Protecting your teenager from injuries while on the road is your top priority. You can begin by choosing a safe vehicle for your teenager to drive. It might not be the vehicle your teenager necessarily wants to drive, but you can rest easier knowing that your teen driver is in the safest vehicle you can afford.

Four Qualities to Look for When Purchasing a Vehicle for Your Teen Driver

teenager driving

Your teen driver may be excited about his or her first vehicle. That feeling is understandable. You may be excited to purchase your teenager’s first vehicle.

However, you need to keep in mind that some vehicles are not suitable for teen drivers.

Teenagers do not have sufficient experience behind the wheel to handle all driving conditions. Furthermore, they are more susceptible to dangerous driving behaviors, such as speeding, distracted driving, and reckless driving. 

Therefore, the car you choose for your teen driver can have a substantial impact on their safety on the road. Four things to keep in mind when choosing an automobile for your teen driver are:

Avoid High Horsepower 

Sports cars are not appropriate for teen drivers. These vehicles reach speeds that can be unsafe for any driver. Choose a vehicle with a smaller engine to help reduce the risk of speeding accidents.

Research Safety Ratings

Before purchasing a vehicle, research the safety ratings. A vehicle with high safety ratings for crashes can reduce the risk of a catastrophic or life-threatening injury should your teen driver be involved in a car accident. 

Choose a Vehicle with Driver Assist Technology

Driver-assist technology can help your teenager avoid car accidents by alerting them when they begin to drift into another lane. These systems can also help prevent rear-end crashes and accidents involving merging and turning. Backup alert systems can avoid colliding into an object or present when backing up. 

Also, choose a vehicle with electronic stability control (ESC). An ESC system helps control the vehicle on slippery roads and curves, reducing the risk of some types of traffic accidents.

Opt for Heavier Vehicles

Heavier, larger vehicles provide additional protection from injuries during a crash. Smaller vehicles and minicars do not provide the same protection in a collision. However, top-heavy trucks and SUVs could roll over easier and may have too much horsepower for a teen driver.

Purchasing a Used Car for Your Teen Driver

Older model vehicles might not have the newer technology that can help your teen driver avoid an accident and reduce the risk of serious injuries in a crash. Also, if parents forget to check for recalls on used cars, they could be placing their teen driver in a dangerous vehicle. 

However, a survey of parents of teen drivers conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found 83 percent of parents purchased a used vehicle for their teenage drivers. Many parents cannot spend $20,000 to $30,000 or more for a brand new vehicle for their teen driver.

Therefore, the IIHS and Consumer Reports have combined their research and information to create a list of safe used cars for teen drivers. The list is updated each year and published on the IIHS website. Vehicles are divided into two categories – best choices and good choices.

Vehicles on the best choice list earned good ratings in the IIHS roof strength, side, head restraint, and moderate overlap front tests. The vehicles earned good or acceptable ratings in the driver-side small overlap front tests. They also have above-average reliability scores from Consumer Reports of the model years listed. 

Cars on the good choice list earned good ratings by the IIHS on the same tests. The vehicles earned above-average reliability scores from Consumer Reports.

The list can help parents evaluate which type of care they want to purchase for their teen driver by the vehicle’s size, rating, and average purchase price.

Are There Other Steps Parents Can Take to Keep Their Teen Drivers Safe?

Some cell phone apps and onboard systems allow parents to receive driving reports detailing their teen driver’s behavior behind the steering wheel. They can see how fast their teenager drives and how many times their teenager stopped suddenly. The information can indicate whether a teen driver is obeying the speed limit and avoiding distractions.

Riding in the car with your teen driver as much as possible is another way to help your teenager become a safe driver. Practicing safe driving skills in a variety of driving conditions with a parent in the vehicle can help give a teen driver confidence and reinforce safe driving.

Parents can limit the number of passengers in the vehicle with their teen driver. Having passengers in the vehicle can increase the risk of a teen driving accident. Also, parents should have a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving.

In addition to a driver’s education course, parents might want to consider completing an online safe driving course with their teen driver. Several companies offer courses online for parents and teens. The courses cover difficult subjects such as distracting driving and drunk driving accidents. 

Completing the course with your teen driver allows you to discuss the danger posed by these driving behaviors and how to avoid a deadly accident. 

What Should Parents Do if Their Teen Driver is in an Accident? 

Do not assume that your teenager is responsible for the cause of the crash. The police officers and the insurance company may make that assumption. Teen drivers are often blamed for causing car accidents because people assume they are careless behind the wheel. 

Unless liability for the crash is clear, you need a car accident attorney to investigate the cause of the crash. If your teen driver was not at fault, they might be entitled to compensation for injuries and damages. A car accident lawyer can help you protect your teen driver’s legal rights. 

Have your teenager seen by a doctor as soon as possible after the crash to document their injuries. Keep detailed records of all conversations with insurance providers and other parties about the accident. Do not allow our teenager to answer questions or provide a statement to an insurance company without an attorney present. 

Also, instruct your teenager not to discuss the accident on social media or with friends. Comments your teenager makes online or posts they create could be used against them in court.

Call Our Texas Car Accident Attorney

If you have questions about a car accident involving your teenage driver, Stephens Law Firm, PLLC is here to help. Jason Stephens will work with you and your teenager to ensure that your teen driver is treated fairly and receives the compensation they deserve. Call a Texas car accident attorney to discuss your teenager’s car crash in detail.