There is nothing quite like handing a set of car keys to a newly licensed teenager. We hope that they have paid attention during the classroom lessons, that they took seriously the frank discussions about respecting the power and lethality of the vehicle, and that they don’t allow excitement to overtake their reason while out on the road. There is a profound element of trust that every parent must exercise﹘one that we certainly appreciated when we were teenagers, that must now be extended to our own children.
While we can’t be there for our children every time they drive, nor can we control the drivers around them, there are ways that a concerned parent can still give their children a measure of safety while they are out on the road. After all the talks and all the lessons, the only thing left to do is find them a safe car to drive.
Safe Cars For Safe Drivers
While a car is truly only as safe as its driver, some vehicles do more than others to make up for the unpredictableness of the open road by including special amenities or features that help to keep everyone aboard out of danger. First, it’s good to look up a car’s safety ratings, which may include scores regarding:
- Crash tests: The strictest and most comprehensive crash tests are carried out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). They monitor numerous factors including front impacts (moderate overlap, small drivers overlap, and passenger small overlap), roof strength, seatbelt effectiveness, headlight strength, and more. Try and find a car that has scored a “Good” or higher on an IIHS crash test.
- Side airbags: According to the IIHS, side impacts account for a quarter of all road fatalities in the United States. Finding a car with side airbags is imperative to keeping drivers and passengers safe.
- Frame Height/Strength: While airbags and seatbelts are critical to keeping passengers alive in a car crash, they only make up two legs of the three-legged stool that is a car’s safety. The other leg is the frame of the vehicle, which must be sufficiently strong enough to protect those inside the vehicle from being crushed. There are numerous types of car frames, but the one with the best roll protection is often the aptly-named Safety Cage.
Picking a car with these safety features (as well as those deemed necessary by the IIHS) is a great start to ensuring that your new driver will be kept safe in the event of an accident. You can check the safety rating for your particular vehicle on the National Highway Traffic Safety Admission website. Other key safety amenities may include:
- Rear-view and side chasse cameras
- Peripheral vision lights/mirrors
- Proximity detection alarms
- Automatic emergency breaking system
- Bluetooth locking system while driving
- Working dash lights for auto care reminders
- Proper Car Maintenance
Once finding the right vehicle, there are other important lessons that must be learned regarding the maintenance of the car. It’s important to remind the new drivers that while the dashboard should remind them to check the engine before an oil change or to inform them of any faulty parts, they should remain cognizant of the car’s systems and have them checked regularly by an auto care professional. These systems include:
- Fuel filter and catalytic converter replacements
- Brake repairs, including pads and brake lines
- Oil changes and fluid top-offs
- Tire rotation and balancing
- Electronics testing
Again, the car will remain safe while the driver remains conscientious of its needs. Modern cars include complex computerized systems within the engine and throughout the body of the vehicle to inform the driver exactly where there are issues, but for those who are driving an older model vehicle, staying mindful of the car’s most recent tune-up will keep them driving safely without incident for many years to come.