My 15 year old son obtained his driving permit last year and now has a restricted drivers license. He thinks we should get him a car. Despite his repeated requests, I have no plans to get him a car. He will undoubtedly read the title of this post and assume I have been bluffing and will be getting him a car on or after his birthday. If so, he is going to be disappointed. I am writing this blog simply because the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently published a list of recommendations for parents to consider when buying teens a car at this website. The recommendations are important and all parents who are considering buying a car for their teens should be consider them. Consumer reports also published this article in February 2014 listing the best cars for teens.
Some parents buy a car for their teen. Others pass along one of their current cars to the teen. Almost half of car purchases for teens are cars that are 2006 models or earlier. Two-thirds of the time parents pass along one of their current cars to teens, the car is a 2006 model or earlier. Older cars have fewer safety features like side airbags and electronic stability control (ESC). ESC is a very important feature for teen drivers. I will write a future blog post on just that subject, but ESC is as significant as seat belts in reducing the risk of injury. ESC became standard equipment with all cars in 2012. If you purchase or pass along a car that is older than a 2012 model, find out if it has ESC.
Another factor to consider is the type of car. Generally larger cars protect passengers more than smaller cars, but that doesn’t mean purchasing a SUV or large pickup truck. Their high centers of gravity make them prone to rollovers with inexperienced drivers. Also, no mini cars or small cars made the IIHS list of safest cars because of their lack of protection in a car accident.
Finally, buy smaller engines. Consumer reports doesn’t recommend any vehicle with a 0-60 acceleration time faster than 8 seconds and high-horsepower should be avoided. And even for those cars on the recommended safety list – avoid their higher horsepower models. The base engines usually have more than enough power for teens. Smaller engines equals fewer car accidents.
This coming school year when I am dropping my son off I hope to see all of his friends driving safe cars.