So the time has come for your child to get his or her first car! It’s a scary prospect, and for good reason – teens are disproportionately represented in car accidents, especially between the ages of 16 and 19, sources say. But choosing the right car for your child can go a long way in promoting safety. Here are some tips.
Bigger Really Is Better
Experts are in agreement about the largeness of a vehicle being in proportion to its safety. It’s simple physics – if you crash two things together, the bigger, heavier object will “win.” So SUVs, pickup trucks, Volkswagen Beetles, and other vehicles (that your teen will probably be embarrassed to drive) are higher up on the safety list. As you research different cars for your child, make sure to find out the safety ratings – some SUVs have a high roll-over rate.
Limited Passenger Room
The dangers of distracted driving are a particular issue with teen drivers. And the more full the car is, the more distractions – and the greater the likelihood that not everyone in the car will be wearing a seatbelt. Vehicles like some pickup trucks can only accommodate one other passenger – although experts agree that two-seated sports cars that encourage speeding and zipping in and out of traffic are not a good idea.
Cost of Insurance
Let’s face it – insurance is astronomical for young people, especially young men. And if you buy a brand new sports car for your child, the premiums are even higher. You can save on insurance if you buy an older, used car with a good safety record.
While it can save money to buy used or older vehicles, make sure there are the basic safety features available in the vehicle: anti-lock brakes, airbags, etc.
How Much Power?
A car with too little power can pose a danger – your teen needs to be able to get up speed after merging, for example, or if he or she is stopped at a red light on a hill. But too much power might encourage speeding, even if it’s accidental. Look for moderate power and performance.
Automatic or Manual Transmission?
Some sources point out that all new drivers should learn on an automatic transmission. However, it bears mentioning that manual transmissions use less gas and, for some drivers, can act as a guard against “spacing out” or getting distracted while driving. After all, you have to actively drive the car with the manual transmission. However, some teens may not handle learning to drive a stick shift at the same time they are learning the basics of driving. So choose a transmission that works with your teen’s learning level and skills.