According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, teens ages 16-17 have the highest rates of car crashes. It’s no surprise parents think long and hard about their child’s choice of vehicle.
Fortunately, parents have many ways to make their kids safer behind the wheel.
“The ideal vehicle for a teen is big, boring and slow,” says Jessica Cicchino, vice president of research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). “Look for vehicles with the highest safety ratings.”
Charlie Klauer, lead of the Teen Risk and Injury Prevention Group at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, agrees. “Parents should consider engine size when shopping for a car for a teen driver,” she says. “They don’t need a six-cylinder anything — they don’t need to win races.”
Cicchino highlights three technologies that can make your teen’s car safer:
- Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking: This cuts rear-end crashes by 50 percent.
- Lane departure warning: This can reduce side-swipe and head-on crashes.
- Electronic stability control: “This is the most basic technology that a vehicle for a teen should have,” says Cicchino.
Older model solutions
Parents often buy used cars for their teens, but “aftermarket systems can add forward collision warnings, speed warnings and lane departure warnings,” Cicchino offers. “The IIHS lists recommended vehicles that meet our safety criteria at different price points.”
Klauer stresses parental engagement. “One way to help your teen drive more safely is to ride with them, even after they get their license. And monitoring and feedback technologies can improve teen drivers — but only when there’s parental oversight.”
Parents are right to worry when teens hit the road — but technology can definitely reduce the risk.