Choosing a car for your teen

5 mins read

Provided by State Farm

Cost considerations aside, it’s not a good idea for newly licensed drivers to immediately have their own car. For one thing, you may be sending your teen a message that having a car and driving immediately is a right he or she is entitled to – rather than a privilege that is earned along with experience. It’s a much safer and wiser plan to have your teen establish a safe driving record before you give your teen free reign of the roadways.

All new drivers are at the highest risk of getting into a crash during the first six months after receiving their license. Don’t be in a rush to give your teen the privilege of independent driving in all conditions and situations right away and not in his or her own vehicle. Read additional helpful insights on setting house rules.

We know you spend a lot of time and effort driving your children around and many look forward to their teen being able to help with some of these responsibilities. But it’s worth waiting a few months more to keep your teen and your car safe!


In their first year on the road, teens are almost 10 times more likely to be in a crash.

• 20 percent of 11th graders report being in a crash as a driver in the
past year.

• 25 percent of 9th graders report being in a crash as a passenger in
their lifetimes.

• Crash risk increases incrementally with each mile per hour over the
speed limit.

• Current data on crashes involving 16-year-old drivers shows that having multiple teen passengers in the vehicle is twice as likely to cause a fatal crash as alcohol-impaired driving.

• Crashes are more common among young drivers than any other age group. In the United States, one in four crash fatalities involves someone 16 to 24 years old, nearly twice as high as other age groups.

Guidelines on cars

When the time is right to help your teen pick out a car, here are some guidelines on the best cars for teens:

• Avoid cars that have a sporty, performance-type image. These vehicles can encourage young drivers to speed and test their performance. SUVs and pickup trucks are also not the best choice for a teenager. While they may seem a safe choice because of their size and weight, they’re actually more likely to roll over in a crash. A teen driver’s high crash rate and an SUV’s high rollover rate can be a deadly combination.

• Later-model mid- and full-size passenger cars are good choices since they offer sufficient weight, as well as updated safety features. Small cars offer less crash protection because of their size/weight. Look for a car that has other air bags in addition to the standard driver and passenger airbags: Side and curtain air bags add an extra measure of crash protection.

• Other safety features that might benefit your teen are Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), as well as intelligent seat belt reminder systems that make it difficult or annoying to drive without all occupants wearing their seat belts.

• When you find a car that seems like a good choice, be sure to check safety ratings with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (www.nhtsa.gov) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (www.iihs.org).

A word about finances

From the National Young Driver Survey, we learned that 61 percent of 9th through 11th graders share the vehicle they drive most often with someone else. Only about half of them said they’re responsible for fuel costs; however, only about 25 percent were responsible for paying any maintenance or repair costs.

Other research shows that awareness of the existence of monetary fines for traffic offenses can be a strong incentive for improving driving safety. Likewise, parents can use the costs associated with driving as a bargaining point. For example, you can agree to cover gas, as long as your son or daughter adheres to the terms of the parent/teen
driving agreement.

For more information about teen driver safety and tools for new drivers, visit www.teendriving.statefarm.com.

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