Car crashes are the leading cause for teenage deaths and the crash risk is much higher during the first year teenagers are able to drive. According to studies, teenager drivers tend to underestimate hazardous driving situations and are less able than older drivers to recognize dangerous situations. Teens also have the lowest rate of seat belt use. According to surveys about 10% of high school students report they do not wear seat belts. And previous research has shown that many newly licensed teenagers in the U.S. are driving vehicles with inferior crash protection. So, choosing a vehicle for your teen is a huge undertaking. You want to get them a newer model with the latest safety features, but not a new car.

My parents parented by trial and error as all parents do. With each daughter, they learned what worked and what didn’t. When the oldest turned 16, my father bought her a new convertible sports car. Looking back, the one smart thing that he did, was to buy her a five speed. It’s nearly impossible to multitask while shifting gears. And, as sweet as that ride was, she would drink and take out parked cars on weekends. When the second oldest became old enough to drive, he bought her a used sports car. She was a decent driver. He probably spent more time with her driver education. When it came to me, the youngest, he gave me a $60 gold, four-door Delta88 Oldsmobile (a minivan would have been cooler). Although I was too embarrassed to be seen in it, and hardly drove it, when it went to the junk yard that car was smashed in on all four sides. It was like a Mini when I got done with it. I’m sure it was more compact and easier to park. So, what are the best tips when choosing a vehicle for your teen?

High safety ratings are imperative when choosing a car. Bigger, heavier vehicles, although not the best choice for fuel economy, are said to protect better in a crash. Assuring that the car has key safety features, such as electronic stability control, is especially beneficial for teenage drivers. So, something more along the lines of a family vehicle with low horsepower, will not only keep them from speeding, but will also prevent them from wanting to drive at all, as was my experience.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Choosing a Vehicle for Your Teen – Comedy Defensive Driving