It’s the old quandary of parents everywhere: how much of a helping hand do you give your kids when it comes to your first car? There are some who will – having plenty of funds – go all out and buy them a brand new car, which other parents will laugh at when they prang it a week later. Then there are others who might give over just a few hundred pounds, getting an old banger so that it doesn’t matter if it gets dented in a post-test-passing scrape. While general wisdom would suggest the latter route is the safest option, it might not be the safest one according to a new study.
The problem stems from the fact that older vehicles, specifically those that have more than a decade of use, are often missing key safety features that make the modern driving experience far more worry-free than the past.
“We know that many parents cannot afford a new vehicle,” said the study’s lead author, Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “Our message to parents is to get the most safety they can afford.”
His thoughts accompany a new study published by the journal Injury Prevention, which points out just over 30 per cent of the teens killed in road accidents in recent years, were driving cars that were 11 years old or more and therefore lacked key safety features of modern motoring. The study looked at data from between 2008 and 2012, taking into consideration the information of drivers ages 15-17 (in the US) that had been involved in fatal car accidents. Of the 2,420 that were looked into, 31 per cent were in cars 11-15 years old, while 82 per cent were in vehicles that were at least six years old.
However, you could argue that the 6-10 year old vehicles were just likely to be more common among new drivers and therefore may not be entirely contributory to fatal road accidents.
While the researchers did admit that teens weren’t automatically less-safe because they were driving an older car – indeed their are many older cars which pass safety tests absolutely fine – when combined with their age, lack of driving experience and statistically higher levels of wantonness on the road, it does create a bit of a perfect storm.
With that in mind, the study’s researchers want parents to look for specific models of cars, whether they’re going for a newer car or an older one, and ones that match a certain profile. Its most important suggestions involve keeping young drivers away form high-horsepower cars, giving them a bigger and heavier vehicle which has more protection and takes longer to accelerate and ideally, making sure it has electronic stability control which can really help avoid losing control of a skid.
For a full breakdown of safe vehicles and other things to look out for, have a look at the official IIHS site here.
Image source: State Farm