Safest Used Cars for Teens

Safest Used Cars for Teens

Lubbock auto accident lawyers know that car crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers; but, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), many teens are driving small, old, unreliable, and unsafe vehicles that cannot adequately protect them in the event of a car accident. We all want the safest car for our teens when they start driving but it is not financially realistic for every family to purchase a new, top IIHS safety pick.

IIHS has released its first list of recommended used vehicles for teens last week after finding in a survey of 500 parents that 83% bought a used, rather than new car for their teen to drive. The survey revealed that teens tend to drive small cars that don’t offer crash protection and also older cars, model year 2006 or earlier. Older vehicles are less likely to have important safety features such as electronic stability control and side air bags that the IIHS feels are crucial for teen drivers.

“For the list of good choices, we compromised on the things we thought we could compromise on. Standard ESC is not one of those things, and that, frankly, is what is keeping this list so short,” says IIHS President Adrian Lund. “That’s how important we believe this feature is.”

ESC is a computerized technology that prevents sideways skidding and loss of control that can lead to rollovers and other kinds of crashes. Vehicle safety and stability are improved by the system detecting and reducing loss of steering control. ESC has been shown to reduce fatal crash risk by a third according to IIHS.

Unfortunately, constrained budgets of parents and teens usually limit vehicle options and many of those options don’t include all current recommended safety options. IIHS’s survey found that, on average, parents spend about $9,800 on a car for a teen and a teen’s budget is far lower at just $5,300. As such, their recommendations include varying price points. For instance, they included 2012 or later Mercedes Benz C-Class sedans at $19,000 but also 2006 to ’08 Volkswagen Passats, which start at $5,100 according to Kelly Blue Book.

Essentials in a used car for your teen:

  • Stay away from high horsepower.  More powerful engines can tempt young drivers to test the limits.
  • Bigger, heavier vehicles are safer. They protect better in a crash. There are no mini-cars or small cars on the recommended list.
  • Electronic stability control (ESC) is a must. As mentioned previously, ESC helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle and reduces risk on a level comparable to safety belts.
  • Have a high safety rating. It should have four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). IIHS has been conducting frontal crash tests since 1995 and side impact tests since 2003, so it is possible to gauge the reliability for older vehicles.