Study says buy your teen a big new car

by Sharlyn Petit
   Teens everywhere can start celebrating. A recent study by researchers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety encourages parents to buy their young drivers a new car. Or, at least one that’s no more than 10 years old.
   The study looked at teen driving deaths in data from 2008 to 2012 and analyzed make, model, and safety for each car involved. Here’s what they found:

  • Almost half of all fatal crashes involved vehicles 11 years or older, which often lack standard safety features found in newer cars.
  • Few teenagers’ vehicles were equipped with electronic stability control (ESC) or side airbags as standard features. ESC helps drivers maintain control on curves and slippery roads.
  • Bigger, heavier vehicles fared better in accidents. They generally offer better crash protection, and data showed teen drivers were less likely to crash at the wheel of an SUV or pickup.

   When I first started driving, my dad told (and retold) me the story of how his first car was towed home from the scrapyard with a rusted-through floor and busted engine. His dad’s instructions were: if you want a car, then make this one run. So dad figured that with me, there was a chance for history to repeat itself.
   After trips to used car lots and county auctions every other weekend looking for the perfect restoration project, the protective-dad factor eventually took over. Safety features like airbags, antilock brakes, and electronic stability control all made the checklist. We settled for a sensible newer car, which held up well in my first accident – rest in peace, Ford Focus.
   Given the elevated crash rates of teenage drivers, the study says, “It is especially important that teenagers drive vehicles that have key safety features and provide good protection in the event of a crash.”
   This means parents need to consider the trade-off between price and safety, and research consumer information for safe and economical choices. No more clunkers!

by  Jon Osterberg

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