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Safe Cars For Teens

By Michelle Mears-Gerst

When kids first learn to walk parents rush to buy gates for their stairs, locks for the cupboards, and safety nobs for the stove. However, as those kids grow up the dangers and risks continue to escalate especially for parents with teenage drivers.

Insurance companies consider teens the riskiest group of drivers on the road. The decision by parents on what car is the safest for their young driver may be just as important as when deciding to put a gate at top or bottom of a staircase for a toddler. Accidents happen and those ounces of prevention tactics should not be wasted on the diaper wearing years.

Parents want to find the safest vehicle in their price range, but cost is often the first determining factor in  the class and style of car the teen driver will operate. Michelle Hanak in Waxhaw, North Carolina has a 15-year old daughter learning to drive.

As a concerned mom, Hanak and her husband looked at cross over vehicles but the cost of insurance was not in  their family budget.

“I would put her in an armored car if I could afford it,” said Hanak.

Hanak is looking to put her daughter into a used Honda Civic.

“They (Honda Civics) are safe, dependable and inexpensive. I’m hoping my mom sells us hers next year for cheap. Insurance is so high for teen drivers.”

Rayme Clampitt from AutoNation in Littleton, Colorado suggests parents who are concerned with high insurance rates to stay with four door sedans.

According to AAA, the Honda Civic is a top pick for parents seeking a car for their teenager.

Ginnie Pritchett, a public relations manager with AAA said the Honda Civic offers solid handling, structure, easy maneuvering and is great on gas.

Pritchett points out that the Honda Civic Si model however may be too powerful for inexperienced drivers.

Other AAA top rated cars are the Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit TDI which is a hatchback offering lots of room with stability in driving.

Parents who are looking for a car that offers better than average gas mileage may want to look at the Ford Focus. The Focus advertises a fuel economy at 40-hwy mpg.

The Ford Focus offers the no cost MyKey feature. The MyKey feature may make the Focus a parent’s teen dream car allowing parents to limit speed, radio volume, and prevent teens from turning off safety features.  The Belt-Minder system in the MyKey offers a six-second reminder chime every minute for five minutes. The chime continues  and the audio system is muted until the safety belt is buckled. A message  “Buckle Up to Unmute Radio,” will also appear on the instrument cluster.

The Ford Fusion also offers driving features that can help young inexperienced drivers. The Fusion offers an optional cross traffic alert a feature that aids the driver when backing out of a parking space. AAA recommends the electric hybrid or four-cylinder motor for teens.

Clampitt suggests parents who are concerned with their teen’s texting and driving to consider teaching their children to drive a stick shift.

“Drivers have to pay more attention to the road when they have a stick shift, and since their hands are occupied shifting and a steering they may not be able to text while driving,” said Clampitt.

When it comes to buying a new car or a used car for a teen driver Clampitt thinks, it only matters if the features you want are new.

“For parents just seeking a basic four door car a used car will do just fine,” said Clampitt, who also pointed out a new driver would probably ding their first car more than the average driver especially when parking at school.