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How to Pick the Safest Cars for Your Teen

One minute your child is learning to walk, and the next they’re learning to drive. As a parent, you want the right car for your new driver − and safety comes first. Beginner drivers are at higher risk of a crash. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that car crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Whatever vehicle you choose for your teen, make sure it can help them make wise decisions on the road and protect them in a crash.

Best cars for teenagers

For their first car, your teen probably wants the coolest one to show off to their friends. You, on the other hand, want them to be safe. The good news is that new cars today offer safety and style.

The first five items in the following list of safety features for teens should be in every young driver’s vehicle. Look for the remaining five if they fit your budget.

  • Airbags
  • Antilock brakes
  • Traction control
  • Stability control
  • Rearview camera
  • Forward-collision warning
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Lane-departure warning
  • Lane-keeping assist

In addition to in-car technology, parents can install an app on a teen’s phone to monitor their driving. Some apps alert you if they drive faster than a pre-set limit, go outside certain boundaries or get in a crash. Some also warn drivers to slow down and turn off their cellphones if they sense a teen is driving. There are several apps available, including Mama Bear, Life 360 and FamiSafe.

Does car size matter?

Yes. When it comes to finding safe first-time cars for new drivers, size does matter. Bigger and heavier vehicles tend to perform better in crash tests, not to mention making operators feel safer. On the other hand, bigger cars can be a challenge for inexperienced drivers. Turning the steering wheel and applying the brakes take more strength, for example. Later-model mid- and full-size passenger cars can be good choices for first-timers, offering sufficient weight as well as updated safety features.

For more information about the safest cars for teens, check out the list of recommended vehicles for teens published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Types of cars to avoid

Sports cars aren’t a wise choice for young operators, as they might encourage them to speed and test their performance. Also add SUVs, trucks and minivans to your cars-to-avoid list. While they may seem like a safe choice because of their size and weight, they’re actually more likely to roll over in a crash. Teen drivers’ high crash rates and SUVs’ high rollover rate can be a deadly combination.

You may also want to avoid smaller, lighter cars. They may not hold up as well in a crash. And, finally, stay away from cars that were recalled by the manufacturer for safety defects. There’s a law against selling new cars with unrepaired recalls, but nothing similar for used cars. This puts the responsibility to do the research on you, the parent.

Help your teen become a safe driver

Young drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes mainly because of their lack of experience and skills behind the wheel. Here’s what you can do to make sure they’re ready for the road once you’ve identified the best cars for teens.

  • Learn about your state’s graduated driving laws. Many states have rules that govern when and how teens drive. Know the laws in your state and maybe set stricter standards.
  • Give your new driver extra practice. It can be a great way to spend time together, and to allow your teen to improve basic driving skills. Check out our tips on teaching a teen to drive.
  • Establish important ground rules. Limit night driving and teen passengers. Forbid using the phone or other electronic devices while driving. Require everyone in the vehicle to wear seat belts at all times. Prohibit speeding.
  • ·Talk to your teen about the dangers of drug and alcohol use. Remind them it’s illegal to drink under the age of 21 − and both illegal and deadly to drink and drive.
  • Be a good role model. Remember, your child looks to you as a driver, so practice safe driving yourself.

Insuring your teen driver

Having made their choice from among the best first cars, your teen driver will also need car insurance. A separate policy can be expensive because of their lack of experience and a higher likelihood of accidents. That’s why it’s usually more affordable to add a young driver to your existing policy.

Including your teen driver on your insurance policy gives them the same protection you have, as all covered drivers have access to all cars listed, and the liability limits are the same for everyone on the policy.* All extra coverages* − like roadside assistance, loan/lease payoff,** rental car reimbursement and new car replacement − will also apply to your teen.

Of course, the final cost of teen car insurance depends on several factors, including but not limited to the driver’s exact age, their ZIP code, driving history and vehicle type. As teens get older and gain more driving experience, their rates can decrease, especially if they have a clean driving record over time. Rates usually go down even more at age 25.

Until then, you can save with discounts for driver training, good grades, insuring two or more vehicles or bundling policies.*** Call one of Amica’s insurance professionals about customized protection that fits your budget and protects your teen driver on the road.

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* The availability, requirements and minimum limits of select auto coverages may vary by state. Specific auto coverage names displayed on your actual policy might vary.
** Gap coverage must be added to your policy within 30 days of your loaned or leased car purchase and is only available if car has both collision and comprehensive coverages. Specific coverage name displayed on your actual policy might vary.
*** Terms and conditions apply, must qualify for each discount. Discounts not available in all states and may vary.

The inclusion of non-Amica companies, products, services or statements herein (“Third-Party Content”) is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement by Amica Insurance. Policies, views, opinions or positions of Third-Party Content expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies, views, opinions or positions of Amica Insurance. Amica Insurance makes no warranties, express or implied, as to the accuracy and reliability of Third-Party Content.