If you are like many parents, you may have been regarding the day your teen officially becomes a licensed driver with a bit of anxiety. The accident rate for teens is four times that of other drivers, and your fears about him getting hurt in an accident, or hurting someone else and potentially getting sued, are pretty understandable. If you are planning on purchasing a car for him, or assisting in said purchase, here are some important points to consider.
Lay Down the Ground Rules
Before you begin shopping for a vehicle, you need to lay down some ground rules about how this is going to work, who pays for what and all that jazz. Will you be purchasing the vehicle outright or will both of you be contributing? Who pays for insurance, repairs, gas and other expenses?
If you know you will ultimately have the final say on what car gets purchased, though you are willing to listen to your child’s input, make sure he knows this right up front. And, if this is your plan, make sure you stand firm. During the process of shopping for a car, there is a good chance there will be some difference of opinion on what constitutes a desirable vehicle.
Do Your Research
As a parent, your main concerns are likely safety and reliability. While there is no one car that will make your child invincible and accident-proof, your choice of vehicle can certainly maximize the protection factor.
So, before you head out to the lots, hop online and get some information about the most desirable vehicles. Mid-sized sedans are a good choice for several reasons, namely, their low center of gravity makes them less likely to roll over in the event of an accident. A less powerful engine will keep any speed demon tendencies in check. Organizations such as the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety offer comprehensive safety information and are great starting points for your research. If you want to check up on quality and reliability, JD Power and Associates is the place to go.
Educate Your Teen
Ultimately, the element most important to your teen’s safety on the road is his driving. Besides the formal driver’s education he may have had, consider enrolling him in additional driver safety courses where he will get more in-depth information and the opportunity to practice important skills. Look up statistics about accidents involving texting, talking on cell phones and other distractions. Put things into perspective—at the average rate of speed, even looking down at a phone for a few seconds, equates to driving the length of a football field without seeing what is going on.
If you are still practicing with your child, pay attention to what other drivers are doing wrong, and use these as teaching moments to educate her about safe driving.
The things our kids are most excited about are often pain points for parents, but with some forethought and good planning, we can deal with them more smoothly. Following these tips can help you make this important purchase and prepare your teen to be a safe driver.