Getting a driver’s license is a big event in a teen’s life, but it can cause parents to sprout gray hair and develop nervous tics. Fortunately, due to continual safety improvements, today’s cars are far safer than ever. So what’s the safest choice for teen drivers? Groups like the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) recommend bigger, heavier vehicles like midsize sedans or SUVs based on the notion that the greater the mass of the vehicle, the better the protection it provides. The American Automobile Association (AAA) advises against SUVs but does recommend midsize sedans. Both groups agree that sedans are good choices and small cars should be avoided if possible. According to AAA sedans are the best choice for teen as small cars don’t offer as much protection in crashes, sporty cars can encourage recklessness, and SUVs and trucks are more difficult to maneuver and have . Ideally, parents should look for a late-model, midsize sedan equipped with standard features like electronic stability control and antilock brakes. Other safety/technology features to consider include:
- A backup camera with rear cross-traffic alert, which gives teen drivers a better opportunity to detect objects behind and from.
- A forward collision warning system with autonomous emergency braking.
- A crash notification system, which notifies authorities in the event of an accident serious enough to activate the airbag.
Here are five mid-size sedans that have all earned five-star safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2016. Some provide extra features that allow parents to place speed and infotainment restrictions on teen drivers in an effort to reduce distractions and enhance safety.
Volkswagen Jetta -Volkswagen’s Car-Net telematics system includes automatic crash notification, roadside assistance and remote vehicle access along with geofencing, which lets you know whenever your teen driver exceeds a set speed limit or travels beyond a designated boundary.
Ford Fusion -The Fusion also offers MyKey, a group of safety features designed to keep your teen driver attentive. It mutes the sound system until seat belts are buckled, allows you set variable speed-alert chimes and impose a top-speed limit and has a Do Not Disturb feature that will hold text messages and send incoming phone calls directly to voicemail on phones that are synced with the system.
Subaru Impreza – Impreza comes standard with an all-wheel-drive system, which should provide peace of mind to parents whose teens will be driving in slippery or snowy conditions. It’s great for teen drivers still learning the finer points of vehicle control.
Chevrolet Malibu – Parents will like Chevy’s new Teen Driver system. Once engaged, the system prevents your teen driver from turning off vital safety features like stability control, automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitor. It also silences the audio system if driver or passenger seatbelt are unbuckled and parents can set audio volume limits and a top-speed limit, ranging from 40-75 mph.
Honda Accord – The new Honda Sensing package, available on all Accord trim levels, features lots of safety tech, like adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane and road departure intervention, which helps prevent the car from drifting off the road entirely.