October 29th, 2020 by

If you are thinking of buying your child a car, you aren’t alone. In a 2012 survey by AutoTrader, 41% of parents said they bought their child’s first car for them.

Whether your child is turning 16 or heading off to college, buying them a car has become an American right of passage for many parents. If you are one of the generous parents that are considering this purchase, here is a guide to help you pick out the perfect car for your child, your budget and your sanity.


According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. You can help prevent fatal crashes by educating your teenagers about these important driving tools and buying them the safest possible vehicle.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) put together these four guiding principles to help parents define a ‘safe’ car:
Stay away from high horsepower

More powerful engines can tempt them to test the limits.

Bigger, heavier vehicles are safer

They protect better in a crash, and HLDI analyses of insurance data show that teen drivers are less likely to crash them in the first place. There are no mini-cars or small cars on the recommended list. Small SUVs are included because their weight is similar to that of a midsize car.

Electronic stability control (ESC) is a must

This feature, which helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads, reduces risk on a level comparable to safety belts.

Vehicles should have the best safety ratings possible

At a minimum, that means good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front test, acceptable ratings in the IIHS side crash test and four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

IIHS put together a long list of vehicles under $20,000 that will keep your kids safer behind the wheel, including the Verano, La Crosse, Regal, Malibu, Terrain, Equinox, Enclave and Traverse.

Get them what they want – technology. Millenials want the latest technology in their car (and you should to). While youngsters are looking for connectivity, such as WIFI, Bluetooth and satellite radio, manufacturers are also building technology to help parents monitor kids safety on the road. In 2015, Chevrolet introduced Teen Driver.

Teen Driver is the first feature in the auto industry that provides parents with a tool to encourage safe driving habits for their kids, even when they are not in the car with them. This technology allows parents to set volume controls, speed controls and receive a report card of their kid’s activities behind the wheel, including distance driven, maximum speed travelled, antilock break events and speed warnings.


Parents should never turn over keys to a new car without setting up some parameters. Heather Spohr put together a list of popular ideas parents can implement with their children to keep them safe.

Sign a Parent/Teen Agreement

It’s a smart idea for parents and their teenager to sign a Parent/Teen Agreement, which spells out the restrictions, privileges, rules and consequences of driving. This agreement puts parents and their teens on the same page (literally), and makes expectations clear from the beginning. For best results, parents must consistently enforce the agreed-upon consequences, and being able to point to a signed document definitely makes doing that a whole lot easier.
Ask for a “Flight Plan”

Studies have shown that teenagers have fewer accidents when driving somewhere specific as opposed to “joy riding” with no set destination. This is why it’s wise for parents to insist that their teenager never gets behind the wheel without filing a “flight plan.” Teens don’t have to be wearing aviator glasses, of course, but they do have to communicate to their parents exactly where they’re going and when they’ll be home.

Always Model Good Driving

Remember that anti-drug PSA from the 1980s where a kid shouted at his dad, “I learned it from watching you” at his dad? Well, teenagers learn how to drive by watching their parents, too. If you focus on driving the speed limit, following the rules of the road, and avoiding distractions, the only time your teen will say “I learned it from watching you” is when you ask them how they’ve become such an incredible driver.

Make Consequences of Drinking and Driving Clear

Teenagers understand that drinking and driving is dangerous, but they’re often unaware of how much a drunk driving conviction would impact their lives. Parents should explain to their teen that most states have zero tolerance for drivers under 21, which means they will have their license suspended if a breathalyzer test detects even a blood alcohol level of .01. Additionally, parents should walk their teen through the thousands of dollars of fees and costs associated with a DUI, and how it will impact their insurance for 3-5 years. With teenagers, the prospect of losing their license as well as their spending cash may be the biggest deterrents of all.

Discuss Distractions

Today’s teenagers have serious distractions behind the wheel. The most serious of these distractions is texting while driving. To demonstrate just how dangerous it is, parents can show their teenagers anti texting-and-driving videos available online, and ask them to take the “It Can Wait” pledge, which proclaims that “no text is worth the risk.” Teenagers can even upload their pledge to Facebook.

Considering buying your teen their first car? Let us help. We have some of the safest cars on the road, no-hassle salespeople and flexible financing. Explore our inventory, call us at (281) 592-2644 or come in for a test drive.

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