By Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa Heffernan of Grown and Flown
Choosing a car for your teen
Few milestones are more exciting for teens, and anxiety-inducing for their parents, than when they pass their drivers test, earn a license, and embark on the road to much greater independence. Depending on each state's graduated license laws, high schoolers can start driving to school, sports practice or a job and socialize without needing a ride from a parent. As teens gain driving experience, some parents may decide that their son or daughter could use their own car. Others may have a car in mind as a high school graduation gift to recognize their teen's accomplishment and new beginning toward adulthood.

If you are shopping for your teenager's first car, think about these things before you hand over the keys to the youngest driver in your family.

Choosing a Car
  • Safety features. The CDC reports that fatalities due to auto accidents are the greatest cause of death among teens. As parents, one powerful way we can help minimize this serious risk for our children is to make safety features a priority for any auto purchase decision. Whether buying new or used, look for a car with electronic stability control (ESC), an antilock brake system (ABS), and side airbags.
  • Size. While buying a small car for economic reasons is understandable, a small car may not have enough mass to protect occupants in a collision. It's always a good idea to consult car safety ratings to see how specific models have performed in safety tests.
  • Used or new. Many older cars have plenty of mass, but they may lack modern safety features that newer cars have. At the very least, look for the three safety features listed above in any used car you are considering for your teen.
Setting Up Your Teen's Car
  • Insurance. Liberty Mutual offers a variety of discounts you may qualify for when you have a teen driver. The Good Student Discount offers special savings on auto insurance for good students under the age of 25 who achieve at least a B average. If you have a college student enrolled in a school more than 100 miles away from home, you may qualify for savings as well.
  • Emergency kit. Stock your teen's new car with a reflective triangle, jumper cables, a flashlight, spare tire, tire inflation tool, and first aid kit and make sure they know how to use each one. Additionally, include a car cell phone charger so they can always use their phone in case of an emergency.
  • One spot for paperwork. Show your teen where the registration and insurance cards are and what they look like. Review what they should do if they are pulled over by a policeman or involved in an accident. If your auto purchase or insurance policy came with roadside assistance, ensure your teen knows who to call if they need help with their car while on the road.
Get more tips on teen driving safety online from Liberty Mutual and keep an eye out for our next New Beginnings post. Join the conversation and share your own new beginnings using the hashtag #mynewbeginning.


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