It’s one thing when you’re in the car with your young driver. But, what can you do to make things as safe as possible for when they’re on their own behind the wheel?

A few years ago in the United Kingdom, Goodyear launched a campaign called Parents Matter to reinforce the fact that parents really do matter when it comes to teaching children about driving and road safety. Goodyear learned that by the time a child reaches the age of 20, parents have driven an extra 26,741 miles taking their children to school, sporting events, or to friends’ houses. It’s no wonder you often hear parents saying they can’t wait for their children to begin driving.

Even though parents anticipate the day they no longer have to serve as taxi drivers, many also look forward to that day with trepidation, because at some point, their child is going to get behind a wheel without them. Parents just hope their children have paid attention to all their talks about safety. Another way parents can help keep their children safe is by making sure they’re driving a safe car.

New Cars Versus Used

For families with the means, Consumer Reports notes that the youngest driver in the family should have the newest car. Wait, what? When you were a kid you got the beat-up old piece of junk nobody else wanted. Well, times have changed and so has the philosophy of the hand-me-down car.

Vehicles today are equipped with some of the latest technology that helps keep driver and passenger safe. Some cars have forward-collision warning systems and automatic emergency braking, not to mention a whole range of other safety features. Some older cars can be retrofitted with a few safety features, but for the most part, a car manufactured today is better equipped.

Other Safety Considerations

Some experts recommend against full-sized pickups or large SUVs due to the fact they’re disposed to rolling over. Thirty percent of people killed in car accidents are killed in rollover crashes. A rollover can occur in any vehicle, but larger ones tend to be top-heavy, and that higher center of gravity can throw the vehicle off balance if the driver makes a dramatic turn or overcorrects.

Here’s a tip for parents who are worried their young drivers won’t put down their phones: Buy a car with a manual transmission. Driving with a stick shift takes both hands and a lot more concentration.

What Is the Best Car for Your Teen?

Late last year, U.S. News & World Report came out with its list of the safest cars for young drivers. Its No. 1 pick was the Chevrolet Sonic, due in part to the car’s excellent crash test score. The Sonic received a 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Others recommended were the:

  • Honda Fit
  • Kia Soul
  • Mazda 3
  • Honda Civic
  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Chevrolet Malibu
  • Ford Fusion Hybrid
  • Kia Optima
  • Nissan Murano
  • Toyota Highlander

If a new car is not in your budget, Consumer Reports also lists the top used cars for teens. Some of the older cars date back to 2004, so for budget-conscious buyers, there are a number of car brands and models available that don’t have to bust your wallet.

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