So, your teen’s ready to hit the road (of course, whether you’re ready for them to be ready is another question altogether). Helping them stay safe on the road is probably at the top of your mind — and we’re here to help out by covering the best car safety features for teens.
Blind-Spot Monitors & Lane-Keep Assist: The Best Car Safety Features for Teens
Plenty of newer vehicles come equipped with a variety of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) designed to help keep drivers of any age safe — but they can be particularly useful for teens. Blind-spot monitors and lane-keep assist systems can notify drivers when another vehicle is in their blind spot, or prevent them from unsafely switching lanes while driving, making them some of the best car safety features for teens.
In the U.S., around 800,000 blind spot accidents occur each year, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). For new drivers, constantly monitoring blind spots can take some getting used to, making blind spot monitors a valuable tool — especially if your teen’s driving a car with a large blind spot.
This is also a good opportunity to discuss passive and active ADAS. Some vehicles have passive ADAS, meaning that the vehicle will alert the driver, but not take action for them. With active ADAS, the vehicle forces a response if the driver fails to act quickly. For example, a passive lane-keep assist system may alert the driver that switching lanes could be unsafe, but allow them to do so anyways. In contrast, an active lane-keep assist system may forcibly turn the wheel or apply the brakes if the car detects that the driver is about to do something dangerous.
It’s good for your teen to make a habit of monitoring their blind spot and safely changing lanes without ADAS, of course — no driver should be dependent on these systems — but giving them one that does will go a long way towards helping them stay safe on the road.
Rear-View Cameras, Collision Warning & Brake Assist
Continuing down the ADAS route, let’s discuss rear-view cameras, collision warning, and brake assist systems.
Rear-view cameras allow drivers to see what’s behind them without relying on a rear-view mirror, while collision warning and brake assist systems can couple to warn drivers of — and automatically hit the breaks to prevent — collisions.
Like other ADAS, you want to make sure your teen doesn’t become dependent on these systems to drive. However, they can help a young driver get the hang of handling their vehicle more safely. They can also work wonders for teaching teens some of the finer points of driving, such as how to safely parallel park a car.
According to a study by CBS News, roughly 20% of accidents happen in parking lots. Cameras and collision avoidance systems can help drivers avoid those collisions, making them great tools for any teen driver.
How to Buy a Safe Car for Your Teen: A Quick Summary
We take a lot of the best car safety features for teens – like airbags and electronic stability control – for granted. But not all cars come equipped with those features — airbags only became a mandatory safety feature in 1999, and electronic stability control has only been standard since 2012.
In other words, if you want a safe car for your teen to drive, an oldie probably isn’t it. Here are some other things you should be aware of when selecting a car for your teen:
- The faster the car, the more potential for danger. Plenty of teens will want a car that can go 0-60 faster than you can wave goodbye, but something lower-horsepower and with slower acceleration may be safer. If you are planning on giving your child something with a lot of get-up, make sure they understand how dangerous that power can be.
- Bigger may actually be better. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), bigger, heavier vehicles typically provide more crash protection than a smaller, lighter car.
- Do plenty of research beforehand. For example, anything that requires a lot of maintenance or has an open recall probably isn’t a great choice for a young driver.
If you’re interested in buying a used starter car for your teen, there’s no better place than Carvana. Visit the IIHS’ vehicle ratings to contrast and compare safety ratings, and then head on over to our site to browse thousands of options and buy – all from the comfort of home.
Want more car news, tips and tricks? Stick around!