The Safest Used Cars For Teen Drivers – Forbes
Teenagers are more likely than other drivers to have the least safe types of cars, often ending up behind the wheel of vehicles that are old, small and without good crash protection.
Those are the findings of new research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit financed by the insurance industry. Earlier this week the group released a list of recommended used vehicles to help parents buy safe cars within their budgets, ranging from less than $5,000 to nearly $20,000.
“A teenager’s first car is more than just a financial decision,” Adrian Lund, the institute’s president, said in a statement. “These lists of recommended used vehicles can help consumers factor in safety, in addition to affordability.”
A national survey conducted for the group indicated that:
- Of parents who bought vehicles for their teens, 83 percent said they bought them used; a little more than half were from the 2006 model year or earlier
- Teens who drove a vehicle that the family already owned were even more likely to drive older vehicles, with two-thirds of the vehicles from 2006 or earlier
- Minicars or small cars were the most commonly purchased type of vehicle
Older cars are much less likely to have important safety features, like electronic stability control (ESC) and side airbags, and small cars offer less protection that larger ones in a crash, the group said, noting that teens’ high risk of crashing is amplified by certain vehicles. A separate institute study showed that teenagers killed in crashes are more likely than adults to have been behind the wheel of small vehicles and older vehicles.
“Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to get a safe vehicle for a teenager at the prices most people are paying,” Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research, said in a statement. “Our advice to parents would be to remember the risks teens take and consider paying a little more.”
The group’s recommendations are guided by four main principles:
• Young drivers should stay away from high horsepower. Powerful engines can tempt teens to test the limits.
• Bigger, heavier vehicles protect better in a crash. The recommended list does not include minicars or small cars; small SUVs are included, as their weight is similar to that of a midsize car.
• ESC is a must. This feature helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads; it reduces risk on a level comparable to safety belts.
• Vehicles should have the best safety ratings possible. At least good ratings in the institute’s moderate overlap front test, acceptable ratings in its side crash test and four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
All the vehicles on the institute’s list have standard ESC and offer good protection in moderate overlap front crashes. Vehicles considered “best choices” for under $20,000 also have good ratings for side crash protection, good head restraints and seats for rear crash protection, and good roof strength to protect occupants in rollover crashes. Vehicles considered “good choices” for under $10,000 have good or acceptable side crash protection and head restraints rated better than poor.
Parents who don’t find a suitable used vehicle from either list, the group said, should buy a midsize or larger car, an SUV, or a minivan with the most safety features they can afford. In addition to ESC, these include side airbags and low horsepower. The institute noted that SUVs and pickups are particularly risky when not equipped with ESC because they are the most prone to rollover crashes.
Click here for the detailed list of “best” and “good” choices for used vehicles for teens.