Your teenager has passed their driving test and been awarded a license from your state, and you've decided to help them out by purchasing their first set of wheels. For many families, the logical thing to do is to buy a used car for the new driver. Used cars are not only less expensive to buy, they're less expensive to insure. And they take a little pressure off of your newly minted driver – a few scratches and dings are par for the course for most teens, and they won't be so noticeable on a used car. However, in addition to affordability, you want to make sure that your teen is safe out on the road. Take a look at some features that any used car you're considering for your teen should have.
It's a given that you will want a car with airbags, but not every car has side airbags in addition to the front airbags. There are several different types of side airbags. The most common are curtain airbags, which deploy from the roof or the door and protect the head, and torso airbags, which deploy from the seat. These protect drivers who are in rollover or side impact crashes.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, side airbags that deploy in rollover accidents reduce deaths by 41%. A combination of curtain and torso airbags reduce deaths in near side crashes by 31%, and head and torso airbags reduce risk by 25%. Improved side airbags began to appear in cars in 2002, so focus your search on vehicles produced after that year.
Electronic Stability Control
For many parents, the instinct is to buy a larger vehicle for your teen so that they're more protected in the event of a crash. That's a good call, except for the fact that some large vehicles, like SUVs, have an unfortunate tendency to roll over if they go into a skid. If you're considering an SUV for your teenager, maximize their safety by choosing one that has an electronic stability control system.
Electronic stability control systems use sensors to detect when a driver is beginning to lose control of the vehicle, and uses the car's anti-lock braking system and traction control system to prevent the car from skidding out of control. Studies show that electronic stability control systems can reduce single car accidents by 30% to 35%. While these systems are especially important for SUV drivers, it's a good safety feature to look for in any car that you're considering buying for a teen. In addition to preventing rollovers, electronic stability systems are useful for preventing skidding accidents in challenging driving conditions, such as heavy rain, snow, or ice.
Blind Spot Monitoring
As an experienced driver, you probably check your blind spot before changing lanes without even thinking about it, just the same way that you scan the road in front of you for potential hazards. New teenaged drivers haven't had time to develop these habits – they have to consciously remember to check blind spots while still paying attention to their driving and the road conditions. Forgetting to check is an easy way to cause a collision.
Blind spot monitoring systems remove this risk for teenagers by alerting them not to change lanes if there is a car in their blind spot. When your teenager turns on the turn signal, the blind spot monitoring system's sensors check the blind spot area and sound an alert if there is a car in the way. The alert stays on until the blind spot obstruction is out of the way.
Not only will these safety features protect your child when they're out on the road, they're likely to net you a discount on your teen's insurance premiums, since they all lower the risk that your teen will be in an accident. Make sure that the pre-owned car that you choose for your teen is as safe as it can possibly be.
Contact a professional dealer, such as Auto Max, and ask about their used car selection and what they would recommend for a teenage driver.