By: Gov Auctions | 22 May 2013

Safe First Cars for a Young Driver

Getting their driver’s licence opens up a whole new world for a teenager, offering them the freedom to go wherever they want. While you, as a parent, want them to have their independence, you can’t help worrying about them on the road. So helping them to buy a safe car is an important first step.

Safety features

Certain safety features are now standard in many vehicles and these are the minimum standards to look for in a safe first car. They include:

  • Seat belts – these are an important safety feature, as they prevent the occupants from being thrown out of the car or striking the windshield or dash in the event of an accident. Ideally, look for seat belts with additional features such as pre-tensioning (tightens in a crash) and adjustable shoulder straps (to accommodate people of different sizes).
  • Airbags – these work in combination with seat belts to protect the vehicle’s occupants and are standard in most modern vehicles. You should look for a vehicle that has two front airbags at the very least (driver and passenger) and, depending on your budget, one with side, rear and curtain airbags as well.
  • ABS brakes – anti-lock brakes prevent the wheels from locking when braking in an emergency. They are considered standard on many newer vehicles and worth paying a little extra for, as they are much safer than ordinary brakes.
  • Electronic stability control – this system helps the driver maintain control in extreme steering situations by applying the brakes to selected wheels when it senses over-steering taking place.
Safe cars

Safety is now a priority with most car manufacturers, but those vehicles with the greatest number of safety features still tend to be at the higher priced end of the market (e.g. Volvo and BMW).

However, if you’re looking for a reliable and economical first car for your teen, there are several in the medium price range that offer good safety features as well. These include the Kia Soul, Honda Civic, Chevy Malibu, Nissan 350Z and Toyota RAV4. Avoid large vehicles with a high centre of gravity and sports cars with overpowered engines, as both present a greater accident risk and will also cost you (and your teen) more in insurance premiums.

Safe driving

No matter which car you eventually buy, its degree of safety will ultimately depend on how your teen drives it. With that in mind, here are a few driving tips you may want to leave in the glove box.

  • Speed – don’t exceed the speed limit, no matter who dares you or how much you want to see how fast it’ll go.
  • Seatbelts – wear them, no matter how uncomfortable or uncool they feel, because they may just save your life one day.
  • Drinking – don’t drink and drive, end of story.
  • Cell phones – don’t talk or text while driving because, despite what you may think, you can’t do two things well at the same time.
  • Friends – don’t cram the car with friends. Only carry those you have seatbelts for and make them behave while you’re driving.