The day has come. Your child (your baby, really, has passed his or her driving test and is now legal to hit the open road. Take a break from being a nervous wreck for a while, and put some thought into the vehicle they’ll be driving. Technology advancements have allowed auto manufacturers to add new features to today’s vehicles that reduce the risk of accidents. Below are some things to consider when shopping for your child’s first car to help them stay safe when they are behind the wheel:
1- Parental Control
It’s a sobering fact that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in teenagers. But newer model vehicles include features that allow you to minimize driver distractions, even if you’re not in the car. With features, such as Ford’s MyKey, you can set the maximum speed limit the car can travel, permit the car’s stereo to be set at a level to your satisfaction and even limit the geographic area your teen can drive in. Also, technology also allows the stereo to be muted until the driver and front seat passenger have safely buckled their seat belts.
Increasingly, cars are equipped with navigation systems that allow the driver to enter their destination and receive audible directions. These smart systems can detect problems en route, such as road construction or a wreck that has resulted in additional traffic. This lessens the likelihood that your teen will get lost in an unfamiliar area of town. Bonus: some systems allow you to track your teen, so you can receive alerts if they are driving somewhere they shouldn’t be or if they are exceeding the speed limit.
3- Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
Computerized technology can detect when a driver has lost control of the vehicle and automatically applies brakes to the wheel. This is a particularly handy feature for inexperienced drivers who may tend to overcorrect the wheel when trying to avoid an unexpected road hazard.
4- Anti-Lock Brakes
It’s not hard to lose control of a vehicle when you have to brake suddenly. Anti-lock brakes are a must for new drivers. When car tires start to lock up, wheel sensors rapidly apply and release the brakes to automatically keep tires from skidding. The driver is more easily able to maintain control of the vehicle when the anti-lock brakes system kicks in.
Teenagers are addicted to their cell phones, and can almost instinctively sense a text alert. Distractions while driving are the leading cause of car accidents, and for a teen, a cell phone is definitely a distraction. But those cellphones come in handy when you need to get hold of your child. Enable their car with Bluetooth so they can talk on the phone or speak a text response entirely hands free.
6- Back-Up Cameras
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants all personal vehicles to have rear-view visibility systems, or back-up cameras. Teens should still be taught to turn around and look while moving in reverse, but a back-up camera provides them with extra visibility by alleviating the rear blind spot. If your teen has an older model car, you can purchase a rear visibility system for as low as $150.
It’s never easy for a parent to watch their child drive away the first time, and you’ll be checking the clock frequently. But buying a car with the safety features mentioned above – or having them installed – can help give you some reassurance that you’re doing everything you can to help your teen driver make it to their destination and back home safely.