by Christopher Boyle,
NEW YORK, NY – Often, a small, little car – especially one that is relatively inexpensive with a sort of ‘cute’ factor – will hold a certain appeal for a teenager or other first-time driver, but there’s far more to consider when choosing a used vehicle for someone without a great deal of experience behind the wheel. Safety, experts say, should be of greater consideration than looks or even what’s on the price tag.
Essentially, bigger and sturdier is better when it comes to the first set of wheels a new driver acquires before setting out on the road alone without parental supervision; after all, teenage drivers have, on average, three times the number of car accidents than drivers in their twenties, according to reports. Typically, the average parent of a new teen driver will gravitate towards a used vehicle for their child’s first – 83 percent of the time, in fact – and without fail, experts maintain that an earlier, bigger model offers far more protection against an unexpected crash than a later, smaller model.
And given the relative inexperience of a new driver, it’s important to put as much steel and plastic between them and the other cars on the road as possible until they become more skilled behind the wheel. Again, bigger is better.
In addition to going with size and stability when it comes to a first car for a new driver, there are several other aspects of a vehicle that a parent or caregiver should consider. First, they should avoid cars that boast engines with an excessive amount of horsepower; such power in the hands of a teen may result in zippier rides and the temptation to ignore posted speed limits, much to their detriment. A vehicle with a basic engine, combined with size, is your best bet; not only will they safeguard your child in the event of an accident, but a larger, unwieldy car will actually reduce the risk of an accident happening to begin with as kids are unlikely to race around in them. After all, at that age, all they need a car for is going to school or a friend’s house…indeed, nothing that requires turbo speed.
If you do go with a more recent model of car for your young, first-time driver, you can reduce the risk of a crash by making sure the vehicle you choose possesses electronic stability control (ESC), which assists a driver in keeping control while taking a tight curve or traversing a slippery road due to rain or ice. ESC, according to studies, offers a degree of protection to a driver comparable to using a seat belt; obviously, it’s an effective asset for protecting your child if you decide to purchase a newer, smaller vehicle for them.
Regardless of the used vehicle you choose for your teen – larger or smaller, heavier or lighter – a parent should always do their research when it comes to the history of the car. In particular, you should always check to see if there are any outstanding recalls for the vehicle in question; in addition, you should also request that the manufacturer send you any notices of future recalls as well.
Of course, with all of this info on what aspects of a car you should be looking into when choosing one for your first-time driver, it might also be helpful to present a list of vehicles that have been recognized for the many safety aspects covered in this article. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has published a list of 115 vehicles recommended for teen drivers, with several categories based on make, model, size, price point, and more. Prices on the Insurance Institute’s list range from approximately $2,000 to nearly $20,000, so parents can buy the most safety for their money, whatever their budget.
When it comes to the idea of someone you care for getting into a car by themselves for the first time, you as a parent or guardian naturally want to ensure that they are protected and safe. After all, the roadway can be a dangerous place, especially for an inexperienced driver, but by following the tips in this article, you can stack the deck in your favor when it comes to keeping your child safe and sound when behind the wheel of their first car.