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Food for thought: what teen motorists need to be driving

“We’re not going to be very popular with parents,” says a senior executive with a national safety group in making reference to families’ driving decisions.

What Anne McCartt of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is specifically noting is that, when it comes to a teen motorist driving the family’s clunker or the sleek new model, that young driver should be firmly buckled into the latter.

As many of our adult readers in Connecticut and elsewhere know, high numbers of novice drivers are problematic behind the wheel. What McCartt is saying is that, given teens are the demographic most closely associated with judgment lapses on the road, it just makes sense that they drive the family’s best vehicle.

That means this: a car that is relatively heavy and large, not amped up by high horsepower and replete with safety features, including electronic stability that mitigates sliding and skidding on roads.

That recommendation is of course made with full appreciation of car accident risks involving teen drivers. Having an electronic stability feature alone “reduces single-vehicle crash risk by half,” noted McCartt.

A central irony features with many teen drivers, namely this: Despite being the group that tops virtually all lists regarding speeding, reckless driving and accident-outcome behaviors, teens quite often end up driving their family’s most suspect automobile. Typically, that vehicle is relatively old, small, with high mileage and not equipped with advanced safety features.

That needs to change, states the IIHS, which recently listed a number of used vehicle recommendations for teen motorists. Those picks can be perused on the organization’s website.

Source: USA TODAY, "Car shopping for teen driver? Consider these, IIHS says," Larry Copeland, July 16, 2014

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