Choosing the right car for a new driver is tricky. On one hand, you want to make sure they have all the features they need to stay safe on the roads, but you also don't want to have them be easily distracted by technology and infotainment systems. Then there's the price factor – insurance rates are already higher for these young motorists, and no one wants to fork over a ton of cash when teens are just getting started in the world of driving.
For teens, certain factors matter
The British Medical Journal conducted a study on teen drivers on U.S. roads, focusing on the circumstances of dangerous crashes. Published online in the journal Injury Prevention, the results of the report showed that larger cars tend to be safer for teens. Pickup trucks and large SUVs were involved in fewer fatal crashes than their smaller counterparts.
Similarly, cars with updated safety features were also more secure for young drivers. Amenities such as electronic stability control, rear-view cameras and side airbags were all found to be extremely advantageous in reducing the risk or severity of a crash. These features aren't limited to brand new cars, either. In fact, buyers can find some lightly used cars with these tools.
"Larger, heavier vehicles generally provide much better crash protection than smaller, lighter ones," the researchers wrote. "Newer vehicles generally are also more likely to have better crash test ratings and important safety features such as ESC and side airbags. Parents may benefit from consumer information about vehicle choices that are both safe and economical."
Finding the right fit
Buying a car with top-notch safety features doesn't have to be a huge blow to your bank account. At New Jersey State Auto Auction, for example, shoppers can browse hundreds of Carfax-certified used cars – most of which can be bid on and had for affordable prices.
Of course, it's also important to teach teens the rules of the road – and the limitations of their car – so they can avoid accidents altogether. Provide new drivers with plenty of time to get used to their ride and its features. Once they know how to work different aspects of the car, these tools are less likely to cause distractions or problems on the roads.