IIHS - Used Vehicles for Teens
by John Davis
Every parent with teenagers grapples with the issue of “that first car.” Automotive experts are always trying to come up with car choices that not only fit a family's budget, but also include modern safety features that could help save young lives. So we asked our FYI reporter Yolanda Vazquez who she would turn to in making this all important choice.
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: Mike Williams is pretty confident that his teenage son Terrance is ready to hit the road on his own.
MIKE WILLIAMS: He’s driven with me quite a bit over the last couple years, so…I think he has a pretty good handle on it.
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: He and his wife, Tracie, are looking to buy him a used vehicle. They want something affordable with good safety features.
TRACIE WHEELER-WILLIAMS: A well-made car…that protects him. So that if he gets in an accident, he can live. And he can walk away with minor injuries, if at all.
MIKE WILLIAMS: You want to get something that they will like. That’s kind of hard because they would want, probably a sports car or something like that; a Jeep. But we had to keep in mind that we want them to be safe first and foremost.
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: Like any parent looking for the right vehicle can be a challenging task. That’s why the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has compiled their first ever list of recommended vehicles for teen drivers.
ANNE MCCARTT: We wanted to take some of the work out, for parents to help them try to buy a vehicle that they could afford, but that had the safety features we considered the most important. .
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: Anne McCartt is the Senior Vice President of Research at IIHS. Using information from a national survey of parents, the Institute put together two separate lists. One with recommended vehicles under $20,000; a second with vehicles under $10,000. All are model year 2005 or later, and represent a wide cross section of vehicles; from a Volvo XC90, to a Ford Escape.
ANNE MCCARTT: The lists have a lot of similarities…
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: McCartt says both exclude vehicles with high horsepower, as speeding is a factor in 35% of fatal crashing involving teens. They also recommend purchasing a bigger, heavier vehicle, like a Buick Regal, Chevrolet Malibu, or Toyota Highlander.
Another key criteria is electronic stability control. The Institute says it’s a must. It helps reduce the risk of rollover crashes, and comes standard on vehicles 2012 and later.
ANNE MCCARTT: One thing we learned in our survey is that a lot of parents don’t seem to be familiar with electronic stability control. And it’s a lifesaving technology.
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: Check out this demo of an obstacle avoidance maneuver: the car with ESC handles the road much better than the car without it. And whenever possible, choose a vehicle that has best government safety ratings.
ANNE MCCARTT: I’m pretty confident that parents and teens can both find a vehicle that they’ll be happy with. But parents should stick to their guns. You want your teens to be happy, but you want them to be safe.
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: As for the Williams family, Terrance hopes his parents do right by him.
TERRANCE WHEELER-WILLIAMS: I don’t want nothing…too crappy…
YOLANDA VAZQUEZ: But he’ll have to wait a while. Cars aren’t allowed on campus freshman year. His parents will continue their search for a vehicle that’s both safe and budget friendly.
MIKE WILLIAMS: So when he comes home on breaks or whatever, he’ll have it here at his disposal. Plus it’s an extra car for me to drive.