If parents had any choice, they would never allow their teens behind the wheel of a car. Traffic accidents are the main cause of death for teens overtaking all other natural causes through illness. In 2010, some 3,700 aged between 16 and 19 were killed on our roads and about 280,000 were hospitalized for treatment. If you take the age group from 15 to 24, they represent less than 15% of the population, but are responsible for causing about 30% of the cost of treatment in the whole health care industry. The teens are the most prone to accidents because they are inexperienced and fail to recognize danger when it approaches. But, if they are to have any independence, learning to drive is usually necessary in all towns and cities which do not have a well-developed public transport system. For a documentary on this, see:
So, to keep the peace and hopefully keep them safe, what cars should you consider buying?
Obviously there are a large number of makes and models to choose from but, if you assume a budget of no more than $15,000, the factors you need to consider are:
• maximum car safety design;
• easy to drive;
• reliable with as little maintenance needed as possible.
Your budget means you are looking at models manufactured between 2008 and 2010. Making safety your highest priority, not all models in the earlier years had the full range of airbags, electronic stability control, and so on. Whatever you buy, pick the model with the most safety features built in you can find. When it comes to reliability, remember the average mileage is 12,334 a year, so the older the car the higher the mileage and the more maintenance may be required. This also affects drivability. As parts start to wear out in the steering, suspension and braking systems, drivers have to adjust to avoid accidents. So we approach the list. You will notice there are no pickups and larger SUVs. They are prone to rolling over and the handling requires more skill. Because of the higher annual premium rates, all higher powered cars are excluded. Affordable car insurance rates come with the cars with the maximum safety built in and gentle performance.
Why buy secondhand? Because the fastest fall in value comes during the first two years of ownership. In some states, there’s a sales tax which is lost the moment you drive away. Depreciation slows after the initial period and, in some cases like the KIA Soul, actually becomes very slow. You should check not only to see which cars do well in the crash test results published by the NHTSA, but also look at the retail values published by the dealerships. Look for the best medium- to long-term value and the safest car for your teen to drive.