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Help Your Teenage Driver Stay Safe (Including a List of Safe Vehicles)

Having a new teenage driver in the house can be as exciting as it is nerve-wracking. How do you balance your teen’s new freedom with your concerns for his or her safety? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has a number of resources available for parents that are worth looking at:

In comparison to drivers age 20 and older, teens have a crash rate that is three times higher. This is primarily due to inexperience and risky driving caused by immaturity. IIHS also notes that although teen drivers are less likely than adults to drink and drive, when they do — they are more likely to crash.

According to IIHS, fatal teen crashes are primarily due to driver error, speeding and are most likely to be single-vehicle crashes in which the teen loses control of the vehicle. Driving with teen passengers in the vehicle also increases the risk of crashes, as does night driving. It is worth noting that most teens who are killed in a crash are not wearing a seat belt.

So how can you help your teen driver? Sit in the passenger seat — often! Don’t rely on a driver’s education course as your child’s primary source of training. Sit in the passenger seat and have your child drive in a variety of conditions — daylight, night, sunny and dry conditions, windy and wet conditions, snowy days — to expose them to the challenges of a changing environment. Once your child has his/her license, initially limit their night-time driving and restrict the number of passengers they can have in the car with them. Make it clear that safety belts are non-negotiable and must be worn every time they get into a vehicle. Forbid them from drinking and driving. And, finally, be a good role model. Be aware that every time you get behind the wheel, they are watching and learning — and they will easily pick up any poor driving habits you exhibit.

When choosing a vehicle for your teen, IIHS cautions parents to stay away from vehicles with high horsepower and to choose bigger, heavier vehicles. IIHS notes that electronic stability control (ESC), which helps a driver maintain control on slippery roads and curves, is a must. IIHS’ list of the best used vehicles for teens includes vehicles that earned good ratings in front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. The list includes a variety of vehicle types, except for minicars and small vehicles, which they do not generally recommend for teens.

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