Is Your Teen Driving a Safe Vehicle?

Many teenagers are dri­ving vehi­cles that don’t offer good crash pro­tec­tion and lack impor­tant safe­ty tech­nol­o­gy, new research by the Insur­ance Insti­tute for High­way Safe­ty shows.

“A teenager’s first car is more than just a finan­cial deci­sion,” says IIHS Pres­i­dent Adri­an Lund.

In a nation­al phone sur­vey con­duct­ed for IIHS of par­ents of teen dri­vers, 83 per­cent of those who bought a vehi­cle for their teenagers said they bought it used.

To help guide par­ents toward safer choic­es, IIHS has com­piled its first-ever list of rec­om­mend­ed used vehi­cles for teens.

The rec­om­men­da­tions on teen vehi­cle choice are guid­ed by four main prin­ci­ples:

• Young dri­vers should stay away from high horse­pow­er. Vehi­cles with more pow­er­ful engines can tempt them to test the lim­its.

• Big­ger, heav­ier vehi­cles pro­tect bet­ter in a crash. There are no mini­cars or small cars on the rec­om­mend­ed list. Small SUVs are includ­ed because their weight is sim­i­lar to that of a mid­size car.

• ESC is a must. This fea­ture, which helps a dri­ver main­tain con­trol of the vehi­cle on curves and slip­pery roads, reduces risk on a lev­el com­pa­ra­ble to safe­ty belts.

• Vehi­cles should have the best safe­ty rat­ings pos­si­ble. At a min­i­mum, that means good rat­ings in the IIHS mod­er­ate over­lap front test, accept­able rat­ings in the IIHS side crash test and four or five stars from the Nation­al High­way Traf­fic Safe­ty Admin­is­tra­tion (NHTSA).

There are two tiers of rec­om­mend­ed vehi­cles with options at var­i­ous price points, rang­ing from less than $5,000 to near­ly $20,000, so par­ents can buy the most safe­ty for their mon­ey, what­ev­er their bud­get.

In the sur­vey of par­ents, the mean pur­chase price for a teen’s vehi­cle was about $9,800, while the medi­an was just $5,300. There are many options on the rec­om­mend­ed list for under $10,000, but just three that cost less than $5,300.

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