Teens should not be driving old, small cars, says safety group

Jul 16, 2014

IIHS says parents should "buy as much safety as you can afford" when shopping for a used car for a teen driver.
IIHS says parents should "buy as much safety as you can afford" when shopping for a used car for a teen driver.
Credit IIHS / Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

A new analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety finds that a disproportionate number of teenagers who died in car accidents were driving older, smaller cars.

Small, older model cars tend to be lightweight and lack electronic stability control and side air bags. 

Yet these are the cars parents typically buy for their teens, who are the least experienced drivers on the road. 

Russ Rader of IIHS says cost shouldn't be the only factor when choosing a car for a young driver.

You are going to have to pay more to get safety with used vehicles for teens.  Our recommendation is that you buy as much safety as you can afford.  It doesn't mean you have to buy a tank, but you can get a good level of safety by looking for a midsize or larger car that has standard electronic stability control and side airbags, and staying away from high horsepower vehicles or small, old vehicles.  A key rule of thumb is big, boring, and slow.

Along with the report, the IIHS has a list of safer used cars it recommends for teens.  Many are  priced under $10,000. 

Nearly 3,000 teens lost their lives in traffic accidents in 2012.   Car crashes still are the number one cause of death for teenagers.