According to the CDC, teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 have a higher chance of getting in a car crash than any other age group. However, by selecting the right used vehicle, parents can spend within their budget and lower their child’s chance of injury on the road.

“Good crash ratings don’t have to mean an expensive vehicle. Many affordable used vehicles perform very well in safety tests,” said David Zuby, executive vice president and chief research officer for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which annually recommends safe, affordable used vehicles.

Driving the decision

This year, there are 49 vehicles on the institute’s “best choices” list and 82 on the “good choices” list. The best choices start under $20,000 and the good choices start under $10,000. Both lists include vehicles that go for as low as $2,500.

"[P]arents should always search for vehicles with the highest crash-test ratings..."

Generally, Zuby said, parents looking for a used car should avoid buying high horsepower vehicles, because they can encourage risk-taking on the road. They should also steer clear of small cars, he said, because they don’t offer the same level of crash protection as bigger, heavier vehicles.

Electronic stability control, meanwhile, is a must-have for a teen driver, as it reduces skidding and can prevent a crash. Nonetheless, parents should always search for vehicles with the highest crash-test ratings, Zuby said, in case of a collision.

“There are no 100 percent safety guarantees with any car,” said Kelley Blue Book executive editor, Jack Nerad, “but making purchasing decisions that increase the odds of surviving a crash — or avoiding one entirely — can make a huge difference.”

“I can’t think of anything more precious than one’s children, so it’s really critical to choose a car that will do its best to keep your child safe,” Nerad said.