Receiving a driver’s license is a rite of passage for American teenagers. For parents of teen drivers, this license symbolizes more than just the end of carpool. As exciting as this time period can be for both parents and teens, safety must remain a top priority as new drivers begin to experience the freedom of self-transportation. Parents know they cannot prepare their children for all scenarios, but they can equip them with a safe vehicle that will help ensure teens and their passengers arrive safely at their destination. One part of the discussion regarding what makes a vehicle appropriate for a new driver is vehicle size, which has many parents questioning if a large vehicle is the safest option for teens.
Why Are Teens at Risk for Car Accidents?
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens according to the CDC. Every year, thousands of teenage drivers are killed in car accidents, with males seemingly more at risk than females. Teenagers experience a number of unique risk factors when driving. Their inexperience makes them especially susceptible to distracted driving, particularly using a cell phone while behind the wheel. Teenage drivers speeding also contributes to about one third of teenage car accident fatalities.
One of the most dangerous factors influencing teen car accidents is much more inconspicuous. Teenage passengers can increase a driver’s engagement in reckless driving behaviors. Teenage drivers were two and half times more likely to engage in risky driving behaviors if at least one other teenage peer was present in the vehicle.
Why Large Cars?
The train of thought surrounding the debate between large and small vehicles is not far-fetched. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has found that larger, heavier vehicles provide greater protection. Larger vehicles tend to absorb the impact of an auto accident better than smaller vehicles due to their ability to disperse the force of impact throughout the vehicle frame, as there is space for absorption. A smaller vehicle tends to feel and absorb a greater force of impact. Despite this, larger vehicles are not immune to dangerous accidents due to their size. In fact, depending on the design of a large vehicle, it could be prone to one of the most serious types of accidents in which a driver can be involved – a rollover. Furthermore, a vehicle that is too large or too heavy can be difficult for inexperienced teen drivers to control. Loss of control of a large, heavy vehicle can cause a severe accident resulting in property damage and personal injury. When parents are car shopping for a teen driver, it’s important to review vehicle recall information and crashworthiness ratings to determine the best fit.
Vehicle Shopping Checklist for Teen Drivers
Parents should focus on vehicle recalls – if any – before purchasing cars for teens. Recall information provides insight into a vehicle’s design and potential dangers, as well as potential costs. Parents should be mindful to select a vehicle that won’t tempt inexperienced drivers into speeding and/or failing to yield. Smaller cars like sports cars and other high-powered vehicles with the ability to quickly reach high speeds can be just as dangerous and difficult to control as an oversized vehicle. Parents should review vehicle specifications for the following information that can help ensure above-average reliability:
- Zero history of recalls
- Dry braking distance of less than 145 feet from 60 mph
- Vehicle emergency handling tests scores (found in most vehicle consumer reports)
- Vehicle crashworthiness rating reported from crash safety testing
- Vehicle size that is not less than 2,750 pounds (sports cars and compact vehicles)
Parents can reference the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s current running list of vehicle safety issues and recalls for additional information when selecting a vehicle.
Other Ways to Keep Teens Safe on the Roads
While you can’t control the behavior of other drivers, you can teach your teen driver safe driving habits. Read below as we highlight a few key points regarding the fundamentals of road safety.
1. Set a good example.
Your child will pick up on good or bad driving habits long before they start driving themselves. Set the standard for safe driving by being as cautious and alert as possible. If you catch yourself making any mistakes while driving with your teen, point out the bad driving habit and make sure they know it is something to work on.
2. Focus on distracted driving.
Be sure to highlight the risks that come with avoidable roadway dangers, like texting and driving or answering phone calls while on the road. Help your teen avoid these behaviors by using Bluetooth features, installing an app on their phone that sends autoreplies when they are driving, or even agree to put the phone away while behind the wheel to combat distracted driving. This is also a good time to touch on the life-threatening hazards that come with drinking and driving.
3. Practice, practice, practice.
It’s important that your teen driver has plenty of practice on the road before getting their driver’s license and driving solo. Whether you are administering the driving lessons or someone else is, try to log more than the recommended number of supervised driving hours to ensure they are really ready and prepared.
It is also important for your teen to practice driving in all weather conditions. It might frighten them if they aren’t prepared in rainy or snowy road conditions and are driving alone.
Lubbock Car Accident Attorneys
Accidents will unfortunately happen; but, through continued safe driving education and a well-researched and informed vehicle purchasing process, parents can feel at peace letting their teen drivers experience the open road. While the goal remains to always arrive safely at each destination, this sadly cannot be guaranteed. If a car accident occurs, parents can help their teen drivers recover by pursuing a claim for damages. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a car accident, contact the Lubbock Car Accident Attorneys of Liggett Law Group, P.C. today to discuss your case at no cost. There is limited time to act following a Texas accident, so don’t put off reaching out.