The car choice for your teen's first car

Timothy Smith, Author and Teen Driving Expert, shares advice for parents on how to choose the right first car for their teenage driver, and what options are most important to have with that car
Teen Driving Advice | Choosing The Right First Car For Your Teen | Kids in the House
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The car choice for your teen's first car

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When it comes time for your teen to have a car, there are several things you can do to reduce their risk. Now many teens, especially boys, have a tendency to speed, but they have little experience with high performance or hard to handle cars. So sports cars, big SUVs and pick up trucks can be disasters waiting to happen. Also, SUVs, vans, trucks, tend to be more top heavy, and they have a higher tendency to roll over. SUVs are 3x more likely to roll over in single car crashes than sedans. On the other hand, heavier is better in crashes. It's simply physics. So a sub contact car substantially increases the risk of injury and death in a crash. So with all those factors in mind, one good choice for your child might be a used mid- to large-sized sedan that's got decent enough power for performance, but not enough to abuse. Some safety features are definitely worth paying for. Anti-lock brakes are pretty standard these days and they're essential. All-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive can be very helpful in certain hazardous driving conditions, but electronic stability control is probably the single most important automotive safety device since seat belts and air bags. Electronic stability control goes by a lot of different names and makes and models. But they all work about the same. They all apply braking to each individual wheel appropriately to avoid and recover from spins and skids. So you can start to get into a skid and make the wrong steering inputs and electronic stability control will do the right thing and override that. So definitely spend the money for electronic stability control. And get as many airbags as you can as well. If your teen is going to get into a crash, you want to reduce the risk and likelihood that they're going to have an injury or fatality. We already know that they're going to crash at a higher rate than anybody else. So crash worthiness and safety features are really important when selecting a car for your teen.
TEEN, Responsibilities, Driving

Timothy Smith, Author and Teen Driving Expert, shares advice for parents on how to choose the right first car for their teenage driver, and what options are most important to have with that car

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Expert Bio

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Timothy Smith

Author & Teen Driving Expert

Timothy Smith is a healthcare executive living in the Chicago area with his wife and three children.   He got involved with teen driving several years ago when a number of teenagers were killed in multiple crashes near his home, virtually all due to driver error.   His search for information to help his teens avoid car crashes yielded little of value, so he became a certified driving instructor, got trained and licensed to race cars, took defensive driving courses and ended up writing Crashproof Your Kids: Make Your Teen A Safer, Smarter Driver.  He is also Chairman of Aegis Mobility, a software company which has developed technology to manage and reduce cell phone use while driving. 

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