According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Data Loss Institute, teenage deaths are disproportionately high. Teenagers are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than drivers who are more than 20 years old. 16 and 17-year-olds are twice as likely to be killed as 18 and 19-year-olds. A safer teenage car can help teenagers stay alive.
Teenage drivers need all the safety help they can get to avoid and minimize car accidents. Teenagers often die or suffer severe injuries due to distracted driving. Divers who drive while distracted don’t have both hands on the wall, aren’t able to respond to emergencies and aren’t focusing on the traffic conditions around them. Distracted driving is caused by drivers who speak or text while driving. Eating, playing with the radio, and driving with fatigue also cause teenage drivers to become distracted. Many teenagers also fail to understand the dangers of driving while intoxicated or while under the influence of drugs.
Overall safer teenager car factors
Some factors that parents are teenage car buyers should consider are:
- Buying cars that don’t have a high amount of horsepower. The more horsepower a car has, the more teens may try to test its power
- Cars that are large and heavy are generally safer after impact. Smaller cars may be more stylish but larger cases tend to protect the drivers and passengers better if there’s an accident. The IIHS HLDI list of recommended vehicles includes small SUVs but no minicars or small vehicles
- Cars should have electronic stability control (ESC). This device helps a teenage driver (or any drier) control the vehicle through curves and on slippery roads.
- Cars should have high safety ratings. The tests should be between four and five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). IIHS test ratings should be among the best as well.
- The vehicle’s identification number should be checked to see if there are any recalls – if it’s a used car. Owners should check every six months to see if there’s a recall for any car their teen drives – new or used.
The IIHS safer teenage car recommendation list
The IIHS recommendations, as of IIHS’s most recent analysis are:
- Infiniti M37/M56/Q70 2013 and newer
- Toyota Avalon 2015 and newer
- Volvo S80 2007 and newer
- Acura TL 2012-14; built later than April 2012
- Audi A3 2015 and later
- Chevrolet Malibu 2014 and later
- Chevrolet Malibu Limited 2016
- Chrysler 200 sedan 2011 and later years
- Dodge Avenger 2011-14
- Ford Fusion 2013 and newer; built after December 2012
- Honda Accord sedan and coupe 2013 and later
- Hyundai Sonata 2015 and later
- Infiniti Q50 2014-15
- Kia Optima 2011 and later
- Lincoln MKZ 2013 and afterward
- Mazda 6 2014 and later
- Nissan Altima sedan 2013 and newer; built after November 2012
- Subaru Legacy 2013 and afterward; built after August 2012
- Subaru Outback 2013 and newer; built after August 2012
- Toyota Camry 2014 and newer; built after December 2013
- Toyota Prius v 2015 and newer
- Volkswagen Jetta 2015 and later
- Volkswagen Passat 2013 and later
- Volvo S60 2011 and afterward
- Volvo V60 2015 and newer
Numerous small cars, midsize SUVs, and minivans are also on the list. The "built after" reference applies to care makers who made safety changes in the middle of a year
Consumer Reports safer teenage car recommendations
Consumer Reports, a leading consumer safety organization, and magazine, made their own evaluation of safe cars for teenage drivers
It recognizes the balance between price and safety that comes with buying a car for their son or daughter. Parents should think twice about passing on their own car to a child. Cars should have high safety marks. They should be cars that inexperienced drivers can operate.
While larger and heavier cars may be better for surviving crashes, Consumer Reports states that studies show there are downsides. Larger cars can be harder to maneuver. They often aren’t economical for gas. Big cars can hold lots of teens which is a risk. When cars have many teenagers, the drivers are apt to focus on the teens in the car instead of the traffic conditions. Unlike IIHS, Consumer Reports does not have minivans on its list. Like the IIHS, Consumer Reports' list only includes smaller minivans.
Sports cars are not on the Consumer Reports list.
Safer teenage cars have:
- Forward collision warnings
- Automatic emergency brakes
The Consumer Reports list does not include cars that can go from 0 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds or faster. The list also avoids cars than go from 0 to 60 in 11 seconds or slower. Safer teenage cars can stop quicker.
These are the 2018 models that Consumer Reports recommends
- Chevrolet Sonic
- Ford Edge, Escape, and Fusion (4 cyl.)
- Honda Accord (4 cyl., nonturbo), CR-V, Fit, and HR-V
- Hyundai Elantra, Santa Fe Sport, and Sonata (nonturbo)
- Kia Forte, Niro, Optima (nonturbo), Soul, Sporgage, and (nonturbo)
- Mazda 3, 6, CX-3, and CX-5
- Nissan Altima (4-cyl.), Rouge, and Rouge Sport
- Subaru Crosstrek, Forester, Legacy (4 cyl.), and Subaru Outback (4 cyl.)
- Toyota Camry (4 cyl.) Corolla, Corolla IM, Prius, Prius Prime, RAV4, and Yaris iA $15,950 - $17,050
- Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
- Volkswagen Passat (4 cyl.)