Safe Used Cars for Young Drivers Under $12K

A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that many younger drivers are driving used vehicles that put them at undue risk of injury or death.

Just over half of the 500 parents who participated in the study said they had purchased model year 2006 or older used vehicles for their teens to drive.  Of teens that are driving hand-me-down vehicles previously driven by a parent or older sibling, two-thirds are driving models that are eight years old or older.  The numbers are significant, because the vehicles in both groups typically don’t offer the protection and safety features, like side impact protection and electronic stability control, found in later models.

Adding to the problem is the fact that 28 percent of participants said their teens drive compact or sub-compact vehicles which are inherently less safe than mid-size and larger models.

IIHS senior vice president for research Anne McCartt says financial concerns are to blame for the current situation.  “Unfortunately,” says McCartt, “it’s very difficult to get a safe vehicle for a teenager at the prices most people are paying.  Our advice to parents would be to remember the risks teens take and consider paying a little more.”

A recent article by Forbes lists 21 used vehicles that offer both safety and affordability.   With prices ranging from $7,000 to $12,000, the group is comprised of a variety of models that are ten-years-old or newer, and includes sedans, SUVs and crossover models.

Lower-priced models on the list include the Ford Fusion, Dodge Journey and Chevrolet Malibu, while models on the upper end of the price range include a number of import models, including the Volvo C30, Volkswagen CC and Audi A3.

All of the models on the list received “good” safety ratings from the IIHS when they were new, and all are equipped with electronic stability control.  Click here to view the list.

In general, the IIHS recommends that parents keep some basic guidelines in mind when shopping for used vehicles for their teens.

For starters, the Institute recommends that parents stay away from muscle cars that might temp their teens to take unsafe risks.  Also, keep in mind that although larger, heavier vehicles may cost more to refuel than smaller models, they typically offer far better protection in the event of a collision.

Finally, consider the safety rating regardless of the make, model or year of the used vehicle you’re considering purchasing for your teen driver. This information can be found on the IIHS website and NHTSA database.

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