Teen driver safetyIt seems like just yesterday that your child was merely a child, but now he/she is old enough to drive and the search for the right type of car begins. Your teen driver may only be concerned with the color, body style, or horsepower, but safety is one thing that needs to be explored before any type of car is purchased. When shopping for cars, do you know what is the best vehicle for your teen driver?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) puts out a yearly list of new vehicle safety ratings with the safest cars earning the Top Safety Pick+ and the next tier of safe vehicles ranked as Top Safety Pick. Since new vehicles may be out of the family’s budget, a phone survey done of teen driver parents indicates that 83 percent of vehicles purchased for the teen driver are used/previously owned.

With this statistic in mind, IIHS also publishes a list of used vehicles that are more affordable for the teen driver, that are still deemed to be safe. There are two tiers (just as the new vehicles) indicating best choices and good choices with prices ranging from $2,000 all the way to $20,000. Finding a safe car within the family budget is a must when making the final decision.

How Does the IIHS Define Safety? 

There are 4 main principles that the IIHS uses to determine the level of safety for vehicles, which include:

Size and Weight of the Vehicle- The safety of the vehicle is directly proportionate to the weight and size of the vehicle. Because of this, there are NO mini cars or small cars on the suggested “safe” list.

Horsepower of the Vehicle- If you have a male teen driver, he may be drawn to cars that have a lot of horsepower, but ALL young drivers should stay away from vehicles with high horsepower as it may lead to high speeds while driving.

Safety Rating- Before a car earns any type of safety award, that car must have a high safety rating, which means during crash tests, it performs well in protecting the driver and/or passenger.

Electronic and Stability Control- This feature (ESC) is important because it helps the driver maintain control of the car when roads are curvy or slippery.

Also, it is recommended that you always check for any significant type of recalls on the car before you purchase it.

Make a Safe Purchase

So, while the color and size may be what your teen driver looks for when the search begins, you can do your research on the safety of the car. This way when your teen driver drives off the lot, you can rest assured you made a safe purchase. If you have any questions regarding the safety of your teen driver or your auto insurance policy, please feel free to contact our office at 866-869-3335. *For the full list of safe vehicles for teens, visit iihs.org.