5 Ways to Make Sure Your New Car Is Teen-Driver Friendly

Lisa F. Young / Shutterstock.com

One of the best strategies for choosing a safe car for your teen is to leave them at home when you shop — at least initially.

Spiffy new technology and major horsepower invariably catch young adults’ eyes. Those extras might not be the best choice for novice drivers.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking your teen can beat the odds. Teens ages 16 to 19 have three times the number of fatal crashes as those 20 and older, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Why? Teens are more likely to underestimate dangerous situations, speed, tailgate and ignore seat belts, reports the Centers for Disease Control.

“If the child is choosing, it’s just not going to work. That’s the hardest part,” said Steve Halloran of CarGurus. “I can understand why [car buyers] want their children involved. A car is a huge enough purchase that … parents want to insure the car can be passed along.”

Here are five musts to consider when choosing a car that experienced and new drivers will share:

1. Check crash test ratings

The IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are the two most respected crash test safety organizations. The problem, though, is that if you’re buying a car for a teen, you are likely looking for one that is used. No one wants to stand on a dealer’s lot, trying to check individual safety ratings. The good news is that there are cheat sheets. Several sites offer lists of teen-friendly cars including the nonprofit IIHS, which also includes probable prices.

2. Don’t assume all cars have the same safety devices and technology

That’s especially true for older cars and even some foreign-made. Antilock braking systems (to maintain stability during hard braking), daytime running lights (to increase visibility), electronic stability control (to increase stability on slick roads or during top speeds), adjustable/lockable head restraints (to provide maximum protection against whiplash), and multiple airbags (including side-impact airbags that reduce driver fatality risk by 37 percent in cars and 52 percent in SUVs), are among the recommendations from the American Automobile Association (AAA). “This is a bellwether for safety,” said Halloran. “Automakers are now routinely offering [safety features such as anti lane crossing technology) that had only been offered in luxury cars.”

3. Avoid high-powered cars

Yes, teens like muscle cars but a four-cylinder engine’s limited acceleration is a more prudent choice for novice drivers, noted Edmunds.com. “No car today is really underpowered, so don’t hesitate to go with a smaller four-cylinder engine rather than a larger V6,” AAA Auto Repair Manager Michael Calkins told Edmunds. It’s also best to avoid sports cars and stick with sedans. Sports cars not only encourage teens to take more driving chances, but they cost more to insure.

4. Consider cars with teen-designed technology

Many automakers have designed some technologies with younger drivers in mind. One example is Ford’s “MyKey,” which allows parents to program the key to limit vehicle top speeds, decrease audio volume and mandate seat belt use. Chevy has a “Teen Driving” system that includes a report on how often a car is driven above pre-set speeds. “Several major automakers have developed similar systems,” said Halloran. “They allows parents to have a virtual presence in the car.”

5. Stop bending the rules

AAA recently reported 87 percent of drivers engaged in at least one risky behavior — think not wearing a seatbelt — within a one-month period. Show your child you use the safety features in the car. And discuss those features with your teen. Safety features won’t protect someone if they don’t use them or think they are worthless. “I would strongly encourage parents to set a good example,” said Halloran. “Watching parents is [one way] kids learn to drive.”

What is your approach to safety for teen drivers? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
15 Great Amazon Finds You Can Buy for Less Than $5
15 Great Amazon Finds You Can Buy for Less Than $5

These products offer big value at a small price.

This Is the Best Used Car You Can Buy
This Is the Best Used Car You Can Buy

This car combines reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

7 Reasons You Should Change Careers After Age 50
7 Reasons You Should Change Careers After Age 50

Many older workers have the energy and experience to make a successful career change.

12 Things Everyone Should Stop Buying This Year
12 Things Everyone Should Stop Buying This Year

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

This Is the Top Home Insurer — for 18 Years Running
This Is the Top Home Insurer — for 18 Years Running

Homeowners are increasingly unhappy with their insurance companies, but one stands out for the better.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?

Two factors determine how much money is coming to you.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

Dollar stores have great bargains on these familiar purchases. Yes, even pregnancy tests.

13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon
13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon

Every household should have these products on hand. Buying them in bulk on Amazon saves you cash.

6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman

Beware: The self-proclaimed personal finance expert has a track record that suggests more sizzle than steak.

This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked
This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked

The Social Security Administration is not helping certain people get money to which they are entitled, a report says.

Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

These vaccines may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 40%.

8 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
8 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline
9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline

Forget expensive specialty products. Good ol’ petroleum jelly can address many common annoyances.

16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret
19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret

Think twice before buying these things.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best
Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best

One brand takes five of the top honors, while another ranks highest in three categories.

41 Things You Should Never Buy
41 Things You Should Never Buy

Some purchases are just plain dumb. Give yourself — and your budget — a break. Don’t spend money on this stuff.

Is a Second Stimulus Check Still Coming?
Is a Second Stimulus Check Still Coming?

The status of another round of direct payments to taxpayers is a mix of good and bad news.

9 Indestructible Products That Are Worth the Price
9 Indestructible Products That Are Worth the Price

If you’re willing to pay a little more for these products, you may never have to shop for another again.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

8 Ways to Slash Your Internet Bill
8 Ways to Slash Your Internet Bill

No matter what price you are paying for internet service, taking these simple steps can lower it.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.