As parents, we all look forward to the day when our children reach the age where they can legally drive themselves to and fro, no longer relying upon us to chauffeur them around wherever they want to go. While you want to provide your teen with a car that will keep them safe on the road, you also don’t want to give them anything too flashy – they’re a teenager, they’ll be happy with almost any vehicle you buy them.
However, your teen will stop at nothing (ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration) to get the car they really want, and you’ll probably find it fairly difficult to say no. Especially if your teen chooses a car that is within the budget you set, how do you say no to their dream car? Anytime your teen hits the road, you’ll be worrying about them, so you need to make sure you’re giving your all to the car search. If you’re looking for some help to jumpstart your car search for the new driver in your family, here are some tips to help you along the way.
Car Accident Facts
During your teen’s first year of driving, they have a ten-fold chance of being in a car crash than you are. That means by the time your teen graduates high school, they have a 1000% greater chance of destroying the gift you are about to give them. Doesn’t leave you with a sense of peace and calm now, does it? Oh, and to top it all off, on average, 25% of all fatal car accidents in America involve a driver between 16 and 24, almost double that of the age group with the second highest percentage of fatal accidents.
So, having read that, do you feel like handing your teen the keys to your new 2013 Dodge Charger? I know I sure wouldn’t. These facts should stress the importance of the safety features the car you end up buying for your teen should include. Sure, riding around town in a new Escalade or Mustang might sound like heaven, but your teen needs to learn that safety is more important than anything else when it comes to hopping behind the wheel and hitting the pavement.
Knowing how likely it is that your teen will be involved in a car accident, it’s time to learn some safety basics about different vehicle styles. This should go without saying, but don’t go out and buy your teen a car that is known for its 0-60 times and performance capabilities. When learning how to drive – and we’re all still learning how to become better drivers – your teen shouldn’t have the temptation to mash on the gas pedal and see what their car can do. A high-performance vehicle can only lead to a negative situation, and rather than sign your teen’s death certificate, you can avoid this entirely by purchasing a more practical vehicle.
Do you think putting your teen behind the wheel of an SUV would keep them safer than a smaller car? Well, think again. SUVs and pickups are among the least safe vehicles for new drivers. The added weight can make the driver feel safer on the road, but in reality, these vehicles are at a greater risk for rollovers, and with a higher center of gravity, your teen will be at risk behind the wheel of a pickup or SUV.
If you’re looking for a vehicle that is among the safest options on the road, consider purchasing a mid- or full-sized sedan. With a low center of gravity and a good amount of weight behind the vehicle, many of these offer upgraded safety features that will better protect your teen driver in the event of an accident. Smaller coupes, however, are less protective in an accident, largely due to their lightweight frame. When you’re out shopping for a car, focus on those that feature multiple air bags, especially those with side and curtain air bags. These features are just another safety feature that will help you sleep easier knowing your teen is driving a safe vehicle.
Buying your teen’s first car isn’t easy, and they are sure to put pressure on you to make their driving dreams come true. Whatever you do, don’t cave in to your teen’s requests and demands. You’re still the adult in the situation, and it is on you to provide your child with a vehicle that will keep them safe. While they might want something they can show off to their friends, you want to make sure they are able to drive for years on end. Do some research, determine the type of vehicle that is best for your teen and your family, and stick to your guns. Your teen’s safety is more important than the cool factor of their car, no matter what they tell you.
Bradley Derringer is a father and blogger for TechBreach.