What to buy your teen to drive

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In a perfect world, all parents love their children and would not willingly put them at risk. Unfortunately, when the economy goes into the tank, compromises have to be made and this can mean the risks of injury rise. If you listen to the politicians, they will all tell you the economy has picked up after the crash of 2008. To some extent this is true. Many of the jobs that were lost have now been replaced. Not always at the same rates of pay, but at least more people can now find work. But savings have been run down and cash is in short supply. So when it comes to buying a vehicle for your teen to drive, many parents go out with a reduced budget. This often means they buy the smaller cars which are cheaper. The problem with the smallest cars is their bumper heights often do not match the larger vehicles, and more drivers and their passengers are injured in crashes. The older smaller cars also come with less safety technology.

If you go to the ratings issued by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it will now tell you many of the older smaller cars are unsafe. This is evidenced by the daily claims for crashes and injuries received by the insurance industry. When it comes to the best quality of information, the insurers come close. This suggests parents are sacrificing safety for affordability.

The rite of passage follows the familiar pattern. Despite most states running a version of the graduated license program, most teens queue up on the due birthday for a permit. Then it’s a rush through the driving school and the tests, both online and behind the wheel. This brings a license and the need for a set of wheels for the teen to take out on to the public roads. The latest analysis of the insurance industry’s data shows about half the vehicles purchased were older than 2006. It was worse when it came to passing on family vehicles for the teens to drive with about two-thirds of the vehicles older than 2006. By modern standards, most of these vehicles are unsafe.

So what should parents be giving their teens to drive? The answer is bigger and heavier vehicles which have low-powered engines. The one key feature to look for is electronic stability control. That means there’s less chance for an inexperienced driver to lose control when cornering. There’s also more metal around the passenger compartment to keep them safer in a crash. The best types of vehicle to buy are the Acura RL or Buick Regal, the Honda Accord sedan or a small SUV like the Ford Escape or Hyundai Tucson. If you are buying make sure you avoid vehicles that have been subject to a major recall or you guarantee all the necessary work has been done to make the vehicle as safe as possible. It’s always worth spending a few more dollars to ensure your teens have the safest vehicles to drive when they are most at risk.

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