5 On Your Side

Give Teen Drivers Safe Cars – Not What They Might Want

Posted April 14, 2008

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers. About 3,500 teen drivers, and 1600 passengers, died in crashes in 2006.

While parents can't do much about the decisions teens make while driving, they can make a difference in what they drive.

“My point is to try to give them the best protection you can," auto expert David Champion said.

Champion said the first thing parents should keep in mind is that bigger is not necessarily better.

Some parents think, with so many sport utility vehicles on the road, maybe I want my child in one too.

With SUVs, there is a risk of a rollover or a single-vehicle crash. Even with electronic stability control, drivers can't overcome the laws of physics.

Add to that what research shows: teen brains are not developed enough to accurately assess risky behavior.

“It's a huge onus, really, for the kid(s) to do what they're supposed to do. Most kids, when you talk to them and they've done something silly, you say, 'Why did you do that?' 'I don't know.' And at this age, they probably don't know. They just do things impulsively. And to give them the car that protects them the best in all situations is why I would go with a good ,family-sized sedan," Champion said.

A family-sized, four-cylinder sedan with side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control is a safe choice, Champion said.

But of course, sedans may not be as "cool" as SUVs, pickup trucks or flashy sports cars, so they are not always an easy sell for teens.

“My daughter really didn't want the car that I bought for her. But I said 'tough,'" Champion added.

Research also shows the part of the brain that sets priorities, suppresses impulses and weighs consequences does not completely develop until age 25.

That is why choosing a car that won't go too fast or roll over, if teens make a mistake, is a big help.

18 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Mom2two Apr 17, 2008

    In 1979 my father gave me a 1971 Datsun 510, with 145,000 miles on it. I was ecstatic. I had a car! (I also had a job to pay for the gas...remember putting in $2-3 at a time!) But my father also said, this is MY car. Daddy giveth and Daddy can taketh away. Driving a car is not only a rite of passage, but a life and death responsibility. Give a kid the safest, and least expensive car you can, and then remind the kid that it is a privilege to USE the car, and such a privilege can be revoked for irresponsible driving.

    My daughter MIGHT be driving at age 17 (which is only 3.5 years away...oh my!) But she will not be allowed to work a job to purchase a car simply because we want to retain the right to take it away if necessary.

  • chargernut69 Apr 17, 2008

    I think a WW2 Sherman tank would be the appropriate choice for driving around here...

    Most people in the RTP area drive like they are in a Nascar race. Maybe $4. a gallon gasoline will get people to slow down?

  • 1opinion Apr 17, 2008

    I'll take my chances with 16 yr old drivers, they have completed drivers ed, have a graduated licensing program, etc.
    Let's work on the teenagers after we get all the illegals who not only have NOT had drivers ed, who have no license or insurance, usually don't speak the language and are drinking.
    Then we'll talk to the teenagers.

  • PACKFAN08 Apr 16, 2008

    HELLO, your a teenager, you dont get what you want.It has gotten out of hand, the kind of cars I see parents buying there kids. A high school kid does not deserve a new car, and especially not an expensive car or truck.

  • Mom of two Apr 16, 2008

    I think 16 years is too young to run the roads. Not all, but they are not responsible enough. Any car is unsafe when you drive crazy. Parnets need to think about safety first, not what will please the child.

  • Pharmboy Apr 16, 2008

    I graduated Millbrook HS in N. Raleigh a while ago. My first vehicle was an 86 Ford Tempo that broke down once a month (seriously)! I learned the value of having a car and how to maintain one. Unfortunately, many kids from N. Raleigh didn't. At school, I parked between a limited edition Land Rover Defender and a Blazer. The kid flipped his Blazer and the parents (from N. Ridge) bought him a BMW 3 series! Now thats just stupid. I guess if they can pay for a BMW, they can pay for his mistakes.

  • Shadow213 Apr 16, 2008

    backwoodswizdom-- a lot of teens get "cool" cars when they're inexperienced drivers and turn out just fine. however, i'd rather be on the safe side and have my 16 yr old drive something as safe as possible. teens may understand the consequences of poor judgement by seeing someone else's brains on the pavement, but that still doesnt make up for years of experience. Even after years on the road, you can't control other, horrible drivers that can be from age 16 to 60. if my kid is going to be hit by anyone, whether or not it is his own fault, i'd want him to be in the safest vehicle possible.

  • TheLiberalIntellect Apr 15, 2008

    My parents bought me a 97 Toyota Corrola for my 16th B-day and I have never been able to thank them enough. The paint was coming off the hood, the interior was starting to become dilapidated...but with gas prices, that car has been a godsend! Not to mention, I've never had any trouble with it at all~! So Kudos to smart moms and dads!

  • ts807 Apr 15, 2008

    It's not the car, its the driver.

    A sedan driven by an impulsive bad driver is more dangerous than a sportscar driven by a safe driver.

    If driving age increases, it will just have older inexperienced drivers on the road and higher insurance rates for 18-20 yr olds.

  • Johnny Da Lounge Apr 15, 2008

    "Add to that what research shows: teen brains are not developed enough to accurately assess risky behavior."

    “It's a huge onus, really, for the kid(s) to do what they're supposed to do. Most kids, when you talk to them and they've done something silly, you say, 'Why did you do that?' 'I don't know.' And at this age, they probably don't know. They just do things impulsively. And to give them the car that protects them the best in all situations is why I would go with a good ,family-sized sedan," Champion said.

    Sounds like teens should not drive, until their brains are more developed. "They just do things impulsively" So give them a family sedan? So there is a possibility of getting hit by this, non-knowing, impulsive girl with a 3000lb family sedan. Thanks

More...