Don't let your teen drive an unstable vehicle. Sport utility vehicles, especially the smaller ones, are inherently less stable than cars because of their higher centers of gravity. Abrupt steering maneuvers -- the kind that can occur when teens are fooling around or over-correcting a driver error -- can cause rollovers in these less stable vehicles. A more stable car would, at worst, skid or spin out.
Even if your teenager drives a car with a sedate image, chances are still high that sooner or later he or she will be in a wreck. This is why it's also important to pick a vehicle that offers good crash protection.
Don't let your teen drive a small vehicle. Small vehicles offer much less protection in crashes than larger ones. However, this doesn't mean you should put your child in the largest vehicle you can find. Many mid- and full-size cars offer more than adequate crash protection. Check out the safety ratings for mid-size and larger cars.
Most of today's cars are better designed for crash protection than cars of 6 to 10 years ago. So avoid older vehicles. For example, a newer mid-size car with airbags would be a better choice than an older, larger car without airbags. Before you make a final choice on the car your teenager will drive, take advantage of the wealth of consumer information available on car safety from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and Insurance Information Institute. Check it out -- it just may save your teen's life.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an independent, nonprofit research and communications organization dedicated to reducing highway crash deaths, injuries and property damage. The Institute is wholly supported by auto insurance companies.
The Insurance Information Institute is a nonprofit communications organization supported by the property-casualty insurance industry. Its central function is to provide accurate and timely information on insurance subjects.