Many teens drive vehicles that don't offer good crash protection and lack important safety features, according to new research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The insurance institute, known for its safety ratings of new vehicles, is out with its first list of used vehicles that cost less than $20,000 and are recommended as safe for teen drivers. To view the entire list, click here.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers, and their degree of injury risk in crashes is greatly impacted by the type of vehicle they drive. In many cases, car-buying decisions for teens are driven solely by price, often resulting in them driving small cars or older vehicles, according to the IIHS.
The IIHS recommends that teen car-buying decisions be guided by four principles:
•Stay away from vehicles with high horsepower, which can tempt teen drivers to test the limits.
•Pick bigger, heavier vehicles that offer better protection in a crash.
•Electronic stability control, which helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads, is a must. "Electronic stability control reduces single-vehicle crash risk by half," says Anne McCartt, IIHS senior vice president for research.
•Pick vehicles with the best safety ratings possible from the IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The IIHS rates vehicles on how they perform in a test crash at 40 mph when 40% of the front of the vehicle hits a barrier, and how they perform in a side crash test. The NHTSA's five-star safety system rates vehicles on crashworthiness and rollover safety.
Price point might be an obstacle for some families with the recommendations. The IIHS survey of 500 parents found that the median purchase price of used cars bought for teens was $5,300. While 49 of the 95 recommended vehicles cost $10,200 or less, only three cost $5,300 or less.