Teens driving old, cheap cars is almost a rite of passage in New Zealand. However, given that young drivers are six times more likely to be involved in a fatal or serious injury crash than other drivers, it makes sense to ensure they are driving the safest car available to them.
But how exactly do you determine how safe a car is?
A safe car for your teen
It’s a nerve-wracking time when we wave our teen off on their first solo trip with their newly-minted restricted licence, so knowing that the car they are driving will perform well in a crash can be reassuring.
There are a number of measures that people generally equate with car safety:
- Whether it has a Warrant of Fitness (WOF)
- Whether it is registered
- If it has been serviced regularly
- The age of the car – the newer the better
- Make and /or model of the car
- Price of the car – expensive is better
Unfortunately none of these, or even all together, provide you with a complete picture of how safe the car will be in a crash. Many modern, expensive, cars are being designed to keep us safe with a myriad of safety features, however new models are not always safer than older models. A WOF and service ensure that the car is roadworthy but do not make it ‘crashworthy’, while the registration is just a fee you pay to use your car on the road. So how can you accurately assess the safest car for your teen to drive?
The right car for your teen
With young drivers far more likely to crash it makes sense to put them in the safest car that is available to them and in many families, this will be your car. The safer the car, the safer they are.
To determine which is the safest car for your teen to drive, you can check the overall safety rating of the cars you own at www.rightcar.govt.nz . Here you can see how safe the car is simply by entering the number plate, or the make and model, of the car and it will be given a rating out of 5. Vehicles with 4 and 5 stars are the safest, while 1 and 2 star vehicles provide little or no protection in a crash. If you wish, you can see details on the vehicle’s crash avoidance, visibility, structure, airbags, restraints, and other protection features.
Purchasing a car
If you or your teen are looking to purchase a car for their use, www.rightcar.govt.nz can help you find the safest models and allow you to compare up to five cars at a time to give you greater decision making ability. They have gathered information from a range of sources to build a comprehensive analysis of safety factors, plus information on fuel economy, vehicle emissions, and even product recalls that might be in place for a particular vehicle.
Written by Robyn Taylor
Robyn creates content on Kidspot NZ. Her hobbies include buying cleaning products and wondering why things don’t then clean themselves, eating cheese scones with her friends, and taking her kids to appointments.
Favourite motto to live by: “This too will pass.”