Choosing the right vehicle for your teen driver
Your teen has their license and now you might be looking at purchasing a vehicle for them to call their own. Though your kid may roll their eyes, you know that the right vehicle for them is something that emphasizes safety over style.
With some many auto options, how do you narrow down to just one? These steps can help you as you start to shop.
Pickup trucks – With a high center of gravity, pickups don’t brake or handle particularly well. This is particularly important if you have a son. Young males driving a pickup truck are statistically one of the driver/vehicle combinations most prone to accidents. 1
Cheaper new cars – While “new” may seem like a safety attribute, most economy models are slower and less responsive than slightly more expensive vehicles. Plus, they are typically on the smaller side, meaning your teen driver is typically less protected in the event of a crash. 2
Sports cars – This probably goes without saying, but the high performance (meaning, high speeds) of sports cars may be catnip to some more daring teen drivers, for whom driving is as much a thrill as a way to get around. The result: more accidents, and more severe ones. Higher insurance rates, too. 3
Minivans – They are relatively safe as vehicles. However, their capacity to carry several passengers is what makes a minivan an unwise purchase. Statistics show that an increase in passengers leads to the increased chance of an accident of teen drivers, and that this number goes up per passenger. Avoid the “party car.” 3
“Tanks” – Big cars are often more difficult to handle. When being driven by an inexperienced motorist, this increases the possibility of an accident. Though big cars may stand up well in the even to of a crash, but why increase the chances of one in the first place? Diminished gas mileage isn’t a plus, either. 4
Check for safety ratings. You have two widely-cited sources to turn to when you start your research. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) site allows you to find safety ratings for specific models and years, via search. If you haven’t narrowed down your choices yet, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) publishes a list of best vehicles for teens that can be a great starting point.
Prioritize electronic stability control. Of course you want to emphasize teen safety for your car purchase. But in terms of looking for safety features, where do you start? Many experts, including Consumer Reports, believe the most important feature is electronic stability control (ESC), which helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads. Newer models—typically 2012 and later—come with ESC standard.
Consider a new car…for yourself. Think about it: you are already familiar with your current car, its performance capabilities and its quirks. Your teen may have even learned to drive on it. Plus, you know you can’t expect to get anything close to full value if you try to sell it or trade it in. So, when the time comes, and if you can afford it, why not get yourself a new car, and give your old car to your teen? Familiarity breeds safety. 2
Evaluate your insurance. The Hanover partners with CarFax, making it easy for policyholders to check a vehicle’s repair history before the purchase. Plus, with a teen driver meaning the increased chance of a crash, options such as roadside assistance or new/newer vehicle replacement coverage could prove to come in more useful than ever.
And, if you're about to add a teen driver to your policy, don't forget to talk to your independent insurance agent about safety and savings options available from The Hanover.
Sources: Consumer Reports
1 “Best Used Cars for Teens” - Consumer Reports
2 “For Teenagers, a New Car Might Not Be the Best Choice” – New York Times
3 “Cheap Cars You Shouldn’t Get Your Teen Driver for the Holidays” – Consumer Reports
4 “Study: What Kind of Car to NOT Buy a Teen Driver” - Time
LC September 2018-438
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