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5-Point Checklist: Buying the Safest Car for Your Teen

5-Point Checklist: Buying the Safest Car for Your Teen


Teen drivers are such a mixed blessing. On the one hand, they can finally drive themselves to school or sports practice, saving you valuable time. On the other hand, they statistically are more likely to be involved in a crash, an event high on the list of parent nightmares.

Fortunately, technology is making today’s cars safer. Pre-collision braking, blind-spot assist, and lane departure warning systems are just a few of the available new features. But they are pricey – and most parents aren’t going to spring for a new car for a teen who just got a license, if for no other reason than the insurance would be astronomical.

When you’re ready to buy your young driver a car, there are some good used models that meet recommended safety criteria, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Overall, these cars are:

  • Bigger and heavier. They offer better protection in a crash, and analysis of crash data shows teens – for whatever reason – are less likely to crash these cars anyway.
  • Not trucks or big SUVs, because they are more difficult to handle and, frankly, invite the possibility of other teen passengers, who would be distracting. Small SUVs are okay.
  • Equipped with electronic stability control (ESC). This feature is a must for any young driver, says the IIHS. ESC helps a driver maintain control of the car on sharp curves or slippery roads and helps reduce the risk of crash injury on par with wearing a seat belt.
  • Have the highest safety rating possible. This is defined by IIHS as moderate or high ratings in front, side and head restraint tests and four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
  • Are NOT muscle cars or sports cars with a lot of power and allure for speed.

Up to Date Lists of Recommended Vehicles for Young Drivers

The latest update of the Institute’s list of recommended used vehicles for teens includes 49 “best choices,” starting under $20,000, and 82 “good choices,” starting under $10,000.

Starting at about $4,500 for a 2010 Ford Focus, Consumer Reports (CR) also has a recommended list of first cars for teens. Like IIHS, Consumer Reports says electronic stability control is a must. This is readily available on cars built after 2010, but be sure to check individual vehicles because it may have been offered only as an option in the early years, CR notes.

Reliability is another key requirement for cars for young drivers. Consumer Reports is a good resource for used car reliability ratings and safety data. The list referenced above includes reliability data along with safety scores and pricing information.

Statistics on Teen Driver Deaths

Even the safest cars can’t protect against crash deaths or injuries, as these sobering statistics show:

  • Six teens or teen passengers ages 16 to 19 die each day from motor vehicle crash injuries; in 2016 this totaled 2,082 sons and daughters
  • 67% of them were not wearing their seat belts
  • 29% of them were speeding
  • 20% had been drinking or had drugs in their systems

Buying the safest car you can afford for your teen is worth every penny. But talking to your teen about the consequences of unsafe driving and modeling responsible behavior yourself is invaluable.


Client Testimonials

Our Clients Always Come First
  • “I highly recommend this firm if you are in an accident, especially on a motorcycle. Thank you, Edwards Law Firm!”

    - Allison H.
  • “They were very helpful with what we had to do and setting up appointments for the doctor and therapist.”

    - Claudia B.
  • “The Edwards Law Firm has built its reputation on providing caring, yet aggressive advocacy for their clients.”

    - Jeff G.

Recent Results

Successful Verdicts & Settlements
  • Refinery - Fell into Tank $11,500,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Death | Net to Client: $6,842,546.09 | Attorney Fees: $3,500,000.00 | Expenses: $157,453.91

  • Premises Negligence $10,750,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Head Injury | Net to Client: $7,166,666.67 | Attorney Fees: $3,583,333.33 | Expenses: $0

  • 18 Wheeler $9,660,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Death | Net to Client: $6,337,277.94 | Attorney Fees: $3,197,915.63 | Expenses: $124,806.43

  • 18 Wheeler $9,000,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Head Injury | Net to Client: $5,069,061.09 | Attorney Fees: $3,600,000.00 } Expenses: $330,938.91

  • Defective Truck $8,200,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Death | Net to Client: $6,308,812.01 | Attorney Fees: $1,840,544.68 | Expenses: $50,643.31

  • Premises Liability $7,810,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Rape | Net to Client: $5,156,632.89 | Attorney Fees: $2,602,943.48 | Expenses: $50,423.63

  • Seat-belt/Rollover $7,535,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Brain Injury | Net to Client: $4,037,523.89 | Attorney Fees: $3,014,000.00 | Expenses: $483,476.11

  • 18 Wheeler $7,000,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Death/Serious Injury | Net to Client: $4,094,098.23 | Attorney Fees: $2,800,000.00 | Expenses: $105,901.77

  • Seatback Failure $6,625,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Head Injury | Net to Client: $3,414,561.37 | Attorney Fees: $2,650,000.00 | Expenses: $560,438.63

  • Oilfield Accident $5,842,228.75 Total Recovery

    Injury: Death | Net to Client: $3,441,771.42 | Attorney Fees: $2,314,953.94 | Expenses: $85,703.38

  • Tire Defect/Seatbelt $5,820,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Death/Head/Ortho | Net to Client: $2,917,287.51 | Attorney Fees: $2,328,000.00 | Expenses: $574,712.49

  • Products/Medical Malpractice $5,629,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Paraplegic | Net to Client: $2,987,859.17 | Attorney Fees: $2,251,600.00 | Expenses: $389,540.83


Why Hire Our Firm?

  • Client-Focused

    For our firm, it is not about the money - we take profound joy in helping our clients get the recoveries they deserve.

  • Highly Qualified

    William R. Edwards & William R. Edwards III are Board Certified® by The Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

  • Advocates for Ethics

    We are leaders in advocating for ethical conduct by attorneys practicing in the field of personal injury.

  • Strong Case Results

    We are not afraid to go to trial & have recovered millions of dollars in recoveries for our clients.

  • Community-Focused

    We are committed to affecting real change both within our community and across the nation.

  • Experienced Team

    The Edwards Law Firm has been in practice and taking personal injury cases since 1962.

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