Q & A: Missouri Teens, First Cars & Safety Concerns

April 24, 2012

329556_chevy_cherry_2.jpgOur southeast Missouri car accident attorneys understand that parents want to do everything in their power to keep their children safe on our roadways. For years, car accidents have been the leading cause of death for teenagers. Choosing a vehicle can be a difficult process: where does a parent start? Parents often have several questions about what kind of car is appropriate for a newly licensed driver: Should you buy new or used? What kind of vehicle is best? Which vehicle will keep them the safest? Below, we offer some information to help answer those questions.

Should I buy a new or used vehicle for my teen driver?

For most parents, finances have to factor into this decision. It's true that spending the extra money on a new vehicle can have its advantages. "Buying a new car is insurance against breakdowns and repairs, regardless of the age or experience of the driver," says Bob Gritzinger, executive editor of AutoWeek.com.

However, you can also purchase an economical, safe used vehicle for your teen, provided you do your homework. If you get a certified pre-owned car, then you will still get the advantages of a new-car like warranty. Going certified pre-owned can also help you to score some excellent financing rates. In a late-model used car, your child will still have the benefits of airbags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control, according to Forbes.

What's more, just because your teen would prefer a new car doesn't make the purchase sensible. "A first time driver doesn't need a new car, but of course they want one," says Lori Mackey, president of Prosperity4Kids. "The depreciation, probability of fender benders and the price tag [means new] is not the most logical way to go."

What kind of vehicle should I buy?

Here, you'll have to consider important questions like the following: How far the car will be driven? Will your child be driving back and forth from college? Will the car mostly be used locally?

At this point, it will be useful to start reviewing crash-test and safety information. You can find this data online, via the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. You should also be looking through reliability and quality ratings from websites like J.D. Power and Associates.

"I see these young, inexperienced drivers in Mustangs, BMWs, and large SUVs. These automobiles are big, powerful and difficult to control for even experienced drivers. In the hands of a new driver, they can be deadly weapons," says LeeAnn Shattuck, co-owner and chief car chick with Women's Automotive Solutions.

While buying too big can be a mistake, you don't want a vehicle that is too compact, either. The smaller the vehicle, the less likely it is to protect passengers in the event of a front-end collision. "Your teen is safest in a mid-sized sedan with a four cylinder engine, airbags and a good crash test rating," says Shattuck.

No matter which way you go about it, it's important to remember that it's going to take some time and some serious research. It's best to shop around, test drive, and evaluate all your options carefully. You don't have to buy the first car you see. Try checking out Kelley Blue Book to start getting some ideas.

When is the best time to buy my teen a vehicle?

Safety advocates agree that there's no "correct" answer to this question: the best thing to do is to consider what's best for your family. "Having a car is not a birthright," says Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, who raised four children. "Today's teens seem to think that they should have a car waiting for them in the driveway when they return home from the Motor Vehicle Department with their driver's license. If that's right for your family, fine. But don't be held hostage to peer pressure, and by that I mean from other families who are buying their teen a car."

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident in Dexter, New Madrid, Perryville or elsewhere in southeast Missouri, contact the Perryville personal injury lawyers at Aaron Sachs Associates to schedule a free initial consultation. Call 1-888-777-AUTO, or visit our website.
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