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How do I choose the safest possible vehicle for my teen driver?

Selecting the right vehicle for a new driver can be a challenge. Cost is obviously a factor, as is fuel efficiency and how much insurance will cost for the vehicle. However, for parents who are about to send a young adult out onto the road for the first time, the biggest concern is probably safety.

Young adults are high risk drivers, as their inexperience at the wheel makes them prone to mistakes in traffic. They don’t know how to avoid potential dangers either. This is why having a safe vehicle for them to drive is a priority. Here are some tips to help you choose the right car, truck or SUV for your teenage driver.

Look at professional reports

Every year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) releases a report analyzing the safest vehicles. That report reflects crash testing data and specialized safety evaluations. In 2023, 28 models qualified for the highest safety rating and 20 cars qualified as relatively safe vehicles that met the criteria for the secondary award. Of course, the list of vehicles changes every year, and the performance of older vehicles may not necessarily always align with their safety rating in the year that they came out on the market. This means parents have to balance consumer reports with professional data when choosing a model.

Assess the big picture

Selecting a specific vehicle model can be a prohibitively restrictive approach to purchasing a car for a teenager. Often, parents instead focus on prioritizing specific features. From side airbags to the overall size and weight of the vehicle, there are numerous factors that help influence what is safest for a young adult. In general, larger vehicles tend to rate higher on collision safety tests than compact vehicles.

Parents may also want to discuss with young adults the importance of prioritizing safety over appearances. Young adults are often more fixated on the coolness factor of their vehicles than they are on how dangerous driving is while learning how to drive well. Some parents may even find that taking the teenager’s input out of the process is the simplest solution, as they may focus on all of the wrong aspects of a vehicle and apply significant pressure to their parents during the decision-making process.

Making safety a top priority when buying a vehicle is one way for you to help keep your new drivers as safe as possible on the road.