Your teen is now able to get behind the wheel of their very first car, so what is the best vehicle to buy to keep them as safe as possible?
It's one of the most exciting times in your teenager's life thus far, and probably one of the scariest in yours - they are about to get their driver's license and they are bugging you about which car they will be driving. Most of them will want the coolest, hippest, and best car to show off to their friends, but what's the best logical and financial decision? Do you splurge to buy them the safest new car on the lot, or do you opt to buy a cheaper used vehicle that won't do as much damage to your wallet?
Studies have shown that teenage drivers are less likely to be involved in a crash when they are driving their parent's vehicle over their own. Unfortunately, sharing vehicles is not always the ideal situation and just down right can't be done in some circumstances. When this is the case, you have a lot of things that should be taken into consideration.
New Cars vs. Used Cars
It's a no brainer that new cars have the highest safety ratings available along with all the new components that will help keep them safe in the event of an accident. They are also made to be more reliable, have better gas mileage, and often lower insurance rates. Oh yeah, let's not forgot that if your teen does happen to get into a crash in their new car; it has a full warranty on it, too. The safety features that most new cars are equipped with that many old used cars don't, are:
- Anti-lock brakes
- Traction control
- Stability control
- Steering wheel and dashboard air bags
- Side air bags
- Side curtain air bags
- Seat belt pretensioners
Many parents opt to buy a used car for their first time driver because it's simply cheaper. Though older cars lack the latest safety equipment and their insurance rates tend to be higher on older cars due to the fact that they are more often stolen for their parts than a new vehicle would be, the smaller price tag tends to outweigh the insurance costs on used vehicles. Before deciding on whether to buy a new or used car, truck, or SUV; you should weigh all of these things against the budget you have set in mind. If your teen is working and is going to be helping out with making the payments and insurance costs, you may want to splurge for the new car and all the safety features. If you are making the payments on your own it may make more sense to purchase a gently used two or three-year-old vehicle that still has good safety ratings, but a lower price tag.
Size Does Matter
Whether you are an experienced driver or just getting your license, the phrase rings true. Finding a safe reliable car that is also in the mid-to-large size category could be the difference of life or death in a crash. NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) chief, Jeffrey Runge, states that while some compact vehicles gain a 5-star rating in their crash tests, they are only compared to other small vehicles. The bigger and heavier the vehicle is, the safer your teen will be.
On the other hand, you should avoid SUVs or full-sized trucks for your new driver. Why, you said bigger was better! This is true, but these vehicles have a higher roll-over rate,
and if your teen happens to hit a patch of ice in the winter and starts to swerve, it's likely they will overcorrect the steering which is the leading cause of roll-over crashes. These vehicles also are more expensive to own with:
- Lower MPG ratings
- Bigger fuel tank
- Higher insurance costs
- Bigger price tag
It's actually safer, and much cheaper, to choose a large family sedan for your teen driver than a big SUV.
Sport Cars are For the Adults
Teenagers are all about the cool-factor, and what's cooler than having a sports car in high school? Nothing, according to students! These cars are definitely cool, but they tend to lack some important safety features, and the drivers tend to drive them to match their images – fast and reckless. It's best to avoid this issue and save the sports cars for the adults that have some experience behind the wheel and know all the tips and tricks to driving safely in any car. Sports cars also carry much higher insurance rates than a family vehicle because of the statistics behind them – they are involved in more car accidents each year than any other vehicle type, according to the NHTSA.
Automatic Transmissions are Best
All drivers should have some kind of idea how to drive a manual transmission in case of an emergency, but it's best to opt for an automatic for your first time driver. Transmissions are extremely expensive and if you're getting a new car for your driver and they don't know how to drive it just yet, you don't want them burning the clutch or breaking the transmission. Not to mention, focusing on when to shift will distract the driver, and they need all the focus they can get.
As We See It
Picking out the safest and best car for your teenage driver is a stressful, yet important, decision and should involve careful consideration. While there is no right or wrong choice we can give you, it's important to remember that whether you choose a new or used vehicle, that you pick one with good safety features.
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