Tag Archives: Gas Mileage

Teen Car Safety: Not An Oxymoron After All

Keeping your teen dude safe while behind the wheel is a matter of more than just the car’s specs. It’s also a matter of your teen’s mental outlook.

By which I mean that if you put your teen behind the wheel of a fire-engine-red muscle car that roars and spits even in neutral, well, you shouldn’t be surprised when your teen dude takes the car up on its implicit challenge to drive it like the beast it most truly is.

Put your teen dude behind the wheel of a car belonging to an old grandmother with a weakness for boxy, slow and drably painted automobiles, however?

“Big, slow and ugly.” That’s what parents should keep in mind when considering what car to give or buy a new teen driver, says Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

 

This came from a recent article put out by the Detroit Free-Press, although considering that Detroit the city recently filed for bankruptcy protection, not really sure we should be listening to anything that comes out of there these days. Still, this at least sounds like good advice, so let’s just keep listening.

Another thing to consider when looking at a car you consider safer for your teen driver to use, you might want to consider that most cars older than about five years might not have the safety features mostly considered essential in keeping alive the sort of driver most likely to crash. That is, a teen dude behind the wheel.

The safety features you most want to see in a car driven by a teenager are electronic stability control, side airbags and front-collision warning or mitigation.

However, you also should keep in mind Lund’s admonition about finding cars that are big, slow and ugly.

Most people look for cars that get good gas mileage, which usually means smaller cars. That might not be a good idea when looking for a teen driver.

Compact and smaller cars “just offer less protection to their occupants,” says Lund. “It gets worse pretty quickly as you go smaller.”

While most cars offer at least 200 horsepower, you mostly want to consider cars that don’t have excessively high levels of horses under the hood. You also don’t want to buy anything that looks even vaguely sports-car-like.

“Parents have to realize the kind of car you’re driving tends to elicit certain driving behavior,” says Lund. “If it can go faster, it tends to be driven faster.”

Of course, all this depends on whether or not you’re considering getting a car for your teen to drive. For a lot of folks, this just isn’t an option, but you might want to consider it when you’re looking at your car. If your teen dude is going to drive your car, why not try and make it as safe as possible. Which might mean that you’re the one driving a car that looks ugly and slow.

Not that I have to worry about that. I mean, I’m driving an outstanding 2007 Honda Odyssey mini van. And mini vans are cool.

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The Bane Of The 21st Century

by Richard

After about a decade of service, most of the lives of our little dudes, we decided to get a new car back in 2007. My wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Out Of Her Mind, was insisting on an SUV.

Something about how, being a dude I’d be more comfortable driving one of those. However, being the person primarily responsible for driving our now-not-so-little dudes around, I knew a minivan would provide more room for them so stretch out and not be in each other’s face during long trips. I also had a lot invested in trying to live up to the minivans are cool philosophy I’d been trying to convince other people about.

It’s true. Minivans are cool. (Rinse. Repeat.)

Anyway, while I liked the idea of automatic sliding doors and better gas mileage, the little dudes were most excited about the idea that the new Jonesmobile would have a DVD player installed inside the car. They loved the thought that they could watch TV while riding in the car. For them, that was really the arrival of the future in their lives.

We all remember our own childhood car experiences. Long trips with the family. Sitting in the back seat, no seat belts of course, trying to keep down the greasy hamburger while jerking back and forth on the busted shocks and rusting springs. Trying to move your head in rhythm to the car while keeping track of the words dancing on the page in your lap. Playing car games, counting license plates from Arizona or somewhere else exotic. Good times. Good times.

I also remember getting yelled at a lot by my parents because my sister was such a jerk. What? Well, it’s the way I remember it.

Now, though, we can take long, long drives, trips to anywhere, and have almost absolute quiet as the little dudes sit, strapped into their seats, staring slack jawed at the DVD screen and listening to their headphones. An actual quiet vacation drive. It was kind of creepy for the first couple of times not to have to break up fights every seven minutes. Now we only had to worry every hour and a half or so when they had to decide on the next movie.

It’s all good, yeah? No. Not really.

Because now the little dudes expect to be watching something every time they get in the car. If I let them, they’ll have a movie or Mythbusters DVD running at all times. Take a five-minute trip to the grocery store? They’re watching a movie. Drive to the movie theater? They’re watching a DVD movie in the back seat on the way there.

This constant need to be entertained in the car is getting on my nerve a bit. I barely get to hear a word from them during any car ride. I never thought I’d start to miss the sound of them yelling during a car ride.

So, what about you? Is the advent of the in-car DVD a good thing for you?

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