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.