How Can I Choose the Safest Vehicle for My Teenage Driver?

When it comes to choosing a car for a teenage driver, safety should be the top priority. With their inexperience on the road, teenagers are statistically more likely to be involved in accidents. Choosing the safest car for your teenage driver involves careful consideration of crash test ratings, advanced safety features, vehicle size, and weight, age and condition of the car, cost of ownership, and a thorough test drive and mechanical inspection. By taking these factors into account, you can find a car that not only provides peace of mind but also helps keep your teenage driver safe on the road. If you or someone you love was recently injured in a Virginia Beach car accident, contact the Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp for a free consultation regarding your potential claim. 

How Can I Select the Safest Vehicle for My Family’s Newest Driver?

Prioritizing Crash Test Ratings

The first step in choosing a safe car is to look at its crash test ratings. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provide comprehensive crash test data. Cars that perform well in these tests are designed to protect occupants in the event of an accident. Look for vehicles with top ratings in various crash scenarios, including frontal, side, and rollover tests.

Checking for Advanced Safety Features

Modern cars come equipped with various advanced safety features that can help prevent accidents. Here are some crucial ones to consider:

  • Automatic Emergency Braking: This system can detect an impending collision and automatically apply the brakes to avoid or mitigate the impact.
  • Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Assist: These features alert the driver if the car begins to drift out of its lane and can even steer the car back into its lane.
  • Blind Spot Detection: This technology warns the driver of vehicles in the blind spot, reducing the risk of lane-change collisions.
  • Electronic Stability Control: ESC helps maintain control of the car during sudden maneuvers or on slippery roads.

Evaluating Size and Weight

Generally, larger and heavier vehicles offer better protection in crashes than smaller, lighter ones. While a smaller car would be easier for a teenager to handle, midsize sedans, SUVs, and crossovers often provide a better balance of safety and drivability. Avoid very large vehicles, which can be harder to maneuver, and very small cars, which may offer less protection in a crash.

Considering the Vehicle’s Age and Condition

While it might be tempting to buy a brand-new car with all the latest safety features, a well-maintained used car can also be a safe choice and is often more budget-friendly. Look for models from the last five years, as they likely have modern safety technologies. However, ensure the car has been properly maintained, and check for any recalls that have not been addressed.

Evaluating the Cost of Ownership

Insurance costs can be significantly higher for teenage drivers. Vehicles with high safety ratings and advanced safety features often qualify for lower insurance premiums. Additionally, the long-term reliability and maintenance costs of the vehicle should be considered. A car with low maintenance needs and a reputation for reliability can save money and reduce the likelihood of unexpected breakdowns.

Test Driving and Getting a Mechanic’s Inspection

Once you have narrowed down your options, take your teenager along for a test drive to ensure they are comfortable and confident driving the vehicle. Pay attention to visibility, ease of handling, and how the car responds to various driving conditions. Additionally, before finalizing any purchase, have a trusted mechanic inspect the vehicle to ensure there are no hidden issues.

Educate Your Teen on Safe Driving Practices

Even the safest car cannot replace the importance of good driving habits. Make sure your teenager understands the importance of wearing a seatbelt, obeying speed limits, avoiding distractions (especially mobile phones), and never driving under the influence. Consider enrolling them in a defensive driving course to reinforce these lessons.

What Are the Leading Causes of Vehicle Accidents Among Teen Drivers?

Teen drivers are at a higher risk of being involved in car accidents compared to more experienced drivers. Understanding the leading causes of these accidents can help in developing strategies to mitigate the risks and improve safety for young drivers. The main contributing factors in car accidents among teen drivers are: 


Lack of driving experience is one of the most significant factors leading to accidents among teen drivers. New drivers often struggle with:

  • Judging Gaps in Traffic: Teenagers may misjudge the distance and speed of other vehicles, leading to unsafe merging or crossing.
  • Understanding Road Conditions: Inexperience can result in difficulty handling adverse weather conditions, such as rain or snow, and reacting appropriately to unexpected road hazards.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a major cause of accidents for all age groups, but teens are particularly vulnerable due to:

  • Mobile Phone Use: Texting, calling, or using social media while driving significantly increases the likelihood of an accident.
  • Passenger Distractions: Having friends in the car can lead to conversations and activities that divert attention from the road.
  • Multitasking: Eating, adjusting the radio, or other in-car activities can also distract teen drivers.


Teenagers are more likely to engage in risky driving behaviors such as speeding. This can be attributed to:

  • Overconfidence: Feeling invincible or overestimating their driving skills can lead teens to drive faster than is safe.
  • Peer Pressure: Influence from friends can encourage speeding or other reckless behaviors.
  • Lack of Awareness: Teens might not fully understand the dangers of speeding or how long it takes to stop a vehicle at high speeds.

Impaired Driving

Although the legal drinking age in many places is 21, alcohol and drug use among teenagers still occur and contribute to accidents. Key points include:

  • Alcohol: Even small amounts of alcohol can impair judgment and reaction times, leading to dangerous driving situations.
  • Drugs: Marijuana and other substances can affect coordination, perception, and reaction times.

Nighttime Driving

Driving at night presents additional challenges, especially for inexperienced drivers. The risks include:

  • Reduced Visibility: Limited visibility makes it harder to see pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles.
  • Fatigue: Teenagers might be more prone to driving while tired, especially after a long day at school or social activities.
  • Higher Risk of Impaired Drivers: The likelihood of encountering drunk drivers increases at night, adding to the risk.

Not Using Seatbelts

Failure to use seatbelts is a common issue among teens. Reasons for this behavior include:

  • Perception of Invincibility: Some teens may feel that seatbelts are unnecessary or uncool.
  • Short Trips: They might neglect to buckle up for short journeys, thinking it’s not worth the effort.
  • Peer Influence: If their friends are not wearing seatbelts, they may be less inclined to use them as well.

Poor Hazard Recognition

Teen drivers often have difficulty recognizing and responding to potential hazards on the road. This issue encompasses:

  • Road Signs and Signals: Inexperience can lead to missing or misinterpreting traffic signs and signals.
  • Pedestrians and Cyclists: Teens might not be as vigilant in watching for pedestrians and cyclists, especially in urban areas.
  • Sudden Stops or Turns: Reacting appropriately to sudden stops or unexpected actions by other drivers can be challenging.

Overcrowded Vehicles

When teens drive with multiple passengers, the risk of an accident increases. This is due to:

  • Increased Distractions: More passengers can mean more conversations and distractions.
  • Pressure to Show Off: With friends in the car, teens might be more likely to take risks to impress their peers.

Addressing the leading causes of car accidents among teen drivers involves a combination of education, enforcement, and support. Encouraging safe driving habits, setting clear rules, and providing plenty of supervised driving practice can help reduce the risk and make the roads safer for everyone.

Practicing Personal Injury Law Since 1985

If you or your teenage driver have been injured in a vehicle accident and need advice on your legal options and the best course of action, reach out to Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp. Our experienced car accident attorneys in Virginia Beach can assess your situation and provide guidance during a complimentary case review. In one recent case, we secured a $300,000 settlement for a client who was injured in a T-bone collision. To schedule your free consultation, call us at (833) 997-1774 or complete the contact form on our website. We have offices located in Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Hampton.