Cost aside, it's not a good idea for newly licensed drivers to immediately have their own cars. For one thing, you may be sending your teen a message that having a car and driving immediately is a right he or she is entitled to — rather than a privilege earned with responsible behavior and experience.
It's a safer and wiser plan to require your teen to establish a safe driving record before allowing free access of the roadways. All new drivers are at the highest risk of getting into a crash during the first six months after receiving their license.
And don't be in a rush to give your teen the privilege of independent driving in all conditions and situations right away — and not in his or her own vehicle. Though many adults look forward to their teens being able to help with driving responsibilities, it's worth waiting a few months more to keep your teen and your car safe.
- In their first year on the road, teens are almost 10 times more likely to be in a crash.
- 20% of 11th graders report being in a crash as a driver in the past year.
- 25% of 9th graders report being in a crash as a passenger in their lifetimes.
- Crash risk increases incrementally with each mile per hour over the speed limit.
- 16-year-old drivers with multiple teen passengers are twice as likely to be in a crash as alcohol-impaired drivers.
- Crashes are more common among young drivers than any other age group. In the United States, one in four crash fatalities involves someone 16-24 years old, nearly twice as high as other age groups.
What car is best?
- Avoid cars that have a sporty, performance-type image. These vehicles can encourage young drivers to speed and test their performance.
- SUVs and pickup trucks are also not the best choices for teenagers. While they may seem a safe choice because of their size and weight, they're actually more likely to roll over in a crash. A teen driver's high crash rate and an SUV's high rollover rate can be a deadly combination.
- Later-model mid- and full-size passenger cars are good choices since they offer sufficient weight, as well as updated safety features. Small cars offer less crash protection because of their size/weight.
- Look for a car that has other air bags in addition to the standard driver and passenger airbags: Side and curtain air bags add an extra measure of crash protection.
- Other safety features that might benefit your teen are Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), as well as intelligent seat belt reminder systems that remind drivers all occupants should wear seat belts.
Costs and responsibility
Other research shows awareness of the existence of monetary fines for traffic offenses can be a strong incentive for improving driving safety. Likewise, parents can use the costs associated with driving as a bargaining point.
For example, a parent can agree to cover gas, as long as the teen adheres to the terms of a parent/teen driving agreement. (You'll find a great example of one in the Steer Clear® driver discount program.)
For more information about teen driver safety and tools for new drivers, visit State Farm® Teen Driver Safety website.