New research published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety compiled the first-ever list of the safest used cars that teenagers can drive.
According to the IIHS, many teenagers are using cars that don't provide good levels of protection from crashes, along with deficiencies in important technology for road safety. This is partly due to the limited budget that families have for the cars of their teenagers. A phone survey conducted nationally by the IIHS revealed that 83 percent of parents of teen drivers who purchased a car for their teenagers bought a used car.
The IIHS's compilation lists down used cars with affordable prices that are in line with the safety criteria for teen drivers. The compilation breaks down the vehicles into two classifications, namely the best choices and the good choices, and includes vehicles with prices ranging from as low as about $5,000 to as high as about $20,000.
"A teenager's first car is more than just a financial decision," Adrian Lund, IIHS President, said. "These lists of recommended used vehicles can help consumers factor in safety, in addition to affordability."
The compiled list of IIHS follows four main principles.
The first principle is that teenage drivers should not have access to high horsepower, as cars with powerful engines may tempt the teenagers to test the vehicle's speed limits.
The second principle is that bigger and heavier cars provide better protection when crashed. Not included in the list are small cars or minicars, as they provide insufficient protection in case of road accidents.
The third principle is the importance of the ESC, or electronic stability control. This feature helps drivers keep control of the car while traveling on slippery or curved roads.
The fourth and last principle is the requirement of high safety ratings for vehicles. This means, at minimum, good ratings in the moderate overlap front test and acceptable ratings in the side crash test, both administered by the IIHS, and at least four stars in safety as rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The mean buying price for a vehicle for a teenager is around $9,800, while the median buying price is around $5,300. However, the list compiled by the IIHS only has three vehicles costing less than $5,300.
"Unfortunately, it's very difficult to get a safe vehicle for a teenager at the prices most people are paying," said IIHS research senior vice president Anne McCartt. "Our advice to parents would be to remember the risks teens take and consider paying a little more."