Lesson 13: Choose the Right Car for Your Teen

When choosing a car for a teen driver, many of us are tempted to find something that fits only two criteria: can we afford it and does it run? However, due to inexperience, teen drivers are more likely to be involved in a crash than more seasoned drivers. A safe, secure vehicle can go a long way toward keeping your teen safe.  

Safety Basics

For starters, you should look at vehicles with safety ratings of at least four out of five stars, as determined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Additionally, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recommends larger, heavier vehicles with electronic stability control for their ability to protect teens from crashes. You should also check a vehicle’s seat belts, airbags and maintenance history, and find out if it has any open recalls. Visit ChecktoProtect.org to check your vehicle for open recalls. 

Safety Features

Newer vehicles are more likely to include Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Some of these common safety technology features may include Blind-spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning (which warns of an impending crash) and many more. While your teen should understand how these technologies work, reiterate that the driver is still the vehicle’s best safety feature.   

Practice: When considering a vehicle, test drive it with your teen and talk through any observations you both have. Make sure your teen will be comfortable in it, and look through the manual together so you both understand the vehicle and its safety features. Remember that while price will always be a factor, safety should also be at the top of your shopping list.


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