Choosing a Vehicle

When it comes to safety, not all vehicles are the same.

Whether you are purchasing, sharing or passing down a vehicle to your teen, vehicle safety is critical to reduce the chances of your teen being seriously injured or killed in a crash.

Important safety features

Starting in 2013, all of these became standard features. But that doesn’t mean that pre-2013 vehicles are necessarily a bad choice. For earlier models, do your homework about safety features. Some vehicles introduced this technology in earlier model years.

Things to avoid

Vehicle age matters

Vehicle age is very important. Newer vehicles are much more likely to have important safety features and to be designed in a way that reduces the likelihood of serious injury for vehicle occupants. Age is not the only important factor—make sure the vehicle also performs well in crash tests (see below).

The video below shows a crash test involving two Toyota Corollas – a 1998 and a 2015. The newer Corolla is the white vehicle. Pay close attention to what happens inside the car

IIHS/Consumer reports car list

IIHS maintains a list of recommended used vehicles for teen drivers in a wide range of prices. If you plan to purchase a vehicle for your teen, this list will help you choose the safest vehicle for your money. You can find this list on the IIHS website.

Sharing a vehicle

Teens have very high crash rates during the first 6-12 months of unsupervised driving. One of the most important things you can do to keep them safe is to share a vehicle during this high-risk period. Teens who share a vehicle are less likely to be involved in a crash, in part because they drive somewhat less, but also because they’re more careful with the car. Sharing a vehicle can be challenging, but it has a big impact on your teen’s safety. Plus, insurance rates are much lower when sharing a vehicle, so you’ll save money!

“Hand-me-down” vehicles

Many teens receive a “hand-me-down” vehicle from a parent, older sibling or friend. Although this may be a less expensive option, it is still critical to make sure the vehicle is safe for a new teen driver. Check the vehicle’s safety features using the list above. Also, make sure the vehicle performs well in crash tests. IIHS and NHTSA provide crash test ratings for all makes and models of vehicles. Check the crash test ratings for your vehicle here: (IIHS) (NHTSA)

Vehicle occupants are more likely to be injured or killed in vehicles that do not have good crash test ratings. If your vehicle does not perform well, you should strongly consider a different vehicle. Choosing a safe vehicle is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to protect your teen during his or her first few years of driving.