Keep clunkers away from teen drivers, experts say
Posted July 16
Updated July 17
Teen drivers are obviously inexperienced and need all the help they can get.
But new research shows that, when it comes to finding a vehicle for them, parents consider budget over potentially life-saving safety features.
"It's so surprising how many teens are driving vehicles that aren't the safest,” said Ann McCartt, senior vice president of research with the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, a nonprofit funded by auto insurers.
So, what makes an ideal vehicle for a teenager? Experts say it’s one without a lot of horsepower, so young drivers aren’t tempted to test the limits.
Bigger, heavier vehicles protect better in a crash, and there’s one safety feature that’s a must: electronic stability control.
"It helps the driver maintain control of a vehicle when they're going around a curve or they're on a slippery road, and they begin to lose the control,” McCartt said. “Electronic stability control reduces the risk of a fatal single-vehicle crash by about half.
"We used to steer parents away from SUVs because they had a tendency to roll over. But with the advent of electronic stability control, that tendency has really been reduced," she said.
IIHS offers a long list of choices for teen drivers. At the top of the under $20,000 list is the Saab 9-5, model year 2010 or later; the Toyota Prius, model year 2012 or later; and the Honda CR-V, model year 2012 or later.
Some good choices for under $10,000 are the 2009 Mercury Sable, the 2009 Subaru Legacy and the Nissan Rogue, model year 2008 or later.