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.