Making Safe Choices For Teen Drivers

Making Safe Choices For Teen Drivers

Statistically speaking, driving is the most dangerous thing your teenager will do. Vehicular accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers. Worse, the cars they tend to drive do little to protect them. Teens buy the cheapest used car they can find or accept “hand-me-downs” after a family member upgrades to a new model. Because older vehicles don’t usually have modern safety features, we’re putting our least experienced drivers in our most dangerous cars just to save a little money.

A recent report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offers some guidance for worried parents trying to balance safety and economy. The criteria they used to compile their list of “safest cars for teen drivers” can also be used to evaluate cars not covered by the survey.

First, parents are encouraged to steer their teens away from powerful muscle cars. Teenagers are learning to drive and testing their limits. Giving them a brand new Corvette to practice on could tempt them into driving maneuvers they aren’t ready for. By the same token, avoid minis and small cars since their horsepower to weight ratio makes them a bad fit for uncertain drivers. Look for a solid midsized or larger vehicle that offers protection in the event of an accident. As a bonus, insurance records show that teens are less likely to crash these kinds of cars at all.

While there is no hard and fast rule about a car’s age, The IIHS recommends choosing a model from later than 2006. The car should have a good or better safety rating by a respected agency. Look for scores from the IIHS or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The ratings look at things like head restraints, airbag placement, and performance in front, side, and rears impact crashes to provide an overall assessment of a car’s safety. Make sure those safety features are still in place when buying a used car.

The most important feature for teen drivers is electronic stability control (ESC). ESC technology grew out of antilock braking systems. It tracks how a vehicle responds to steering from the driver and can apply the brakes or adjust engine power to keep the car moving evenly. Driving a car equipped with ESC reduces fatal accidents by a third, making it almost as important as seat belts. If you choose an SUV or truck- the most commonly rolled types of vehicles- ESC is an absolute must.

For parents that want specific suggestions, the IIHS list offers a few dozen safe options. The Chevy Malibu from 2010 and later made the “best” list. Crash ratings are good across the board, and ECS was standard as early as 2009. Newer models expand on this protection with side curtain airbags that deploy before rollovers and a lower set intended to minimize knee injuries. The Equinox, also highly recommended, carried a rollover sensor as early as 2010. It meet the requirement for ECS and is also in the class teens don’t often crash. Better yet, current models are Top Safety Picks by the IIHS and the NHTSA.

If you decide a new car with upgraded safety features is a better choice for your family, take a look at the Suburban. 2016 models can be fitted with Side Blind Zone, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Front Automatic Braking to help your teen avoid the most common types of accidents. With seven airbags, the Suburban offers superior rollover protection.
Bring your new driver and come visit us at Heidebreicht Chevy where we can make the right choice together.

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