The leading cause of death for teens 15 to 18 years old in the U.S. is motor vehicle crashes. With today’s advanced technology, parents now have more access to safety features that help combat the most common dangers for teen drivers, which include not wearing seat belts, distracted driving and speeding.
The experts at Cars.com assembled recommendations for the best vehicle technology and top cars for new teen drivers for the recent National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 20-26.
“Teen drivers are most at risk because they are excited about the independence and still learning how to navigate the rules of the road and safely operate a vehicle,” said Jenni Newman, Cars.com editor-in-chief and mother of a new teen driver. “As a mom, teaching my teenager to drive is a nerve-wracking experience. Parents need to educate themselves on the best cars for their teen drivers based on what safety features are available, crash-test ratings, affordability and more before their teen gets behind the wheel.”
The experts at Cars.com identified the best new cars for teen drivers based on available in-car technology, affordability and safety scores:
• 2019 Hyundai Kona SEL SUV has stellar crash-test scores and is equipped with the SmartSense safety suite, which bundles forward collision warning with emergency braking, lane keep assist and driver attention warning systems. Starting price: $22,895
• 2019 Kia Forte EX (with Launch Edition Package) is a compact sedan that impresses on many levels, with a sporty design, a more refined interior and features such as forward collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot collision warning, lane keep assist and more. Starting price: $26,125
• 2019 Mazda3 (front-wheel drive with Select Package) is a compact sedan equipped with Mazda’s i-ActivSense safety system, which adds emergency braking, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, and driver attention alert. Starting price: $23,520
• Honorable mention: 2020 Nissan Versa SV3 is an affordable subcompact with safety features including front automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic reverse braking, a lane departure warning system, blind spot warning, automatic headlights and high beams. Starting price: $18,535
“Each year, automakers are adding more safety features to new models, giving today’s parents better access to advanced technology to help their teens avoid potentially fatal errors,” said Newman.
She advises parents to look out for the following safety tech features as they shop for their new teen driver:
- Forward collision warning monitors a vehicle’s speed, the speed of the car in front of it and the distance between vehicles. If the vehicles get too close, this technology will warn the teen driver to slow down and move to a safe distance between vehicles.
- Automatic emergency braking systems detect an impending forward crash and alert teen drivers to take action. If the driver doesn’t respond, the system automatically applies the brakes. This technology is critical in avoiding a forward crash and reducing the severity of an impending collision.
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connect smartphones to the car’s infotainment system. This feature allows teens to use some features from their smartphone but still limit their distractions while driving.
- Lane keep assist and lane departure warning systems alert teenage drivers when the vehicle begins to move out of its lane. For teens still learning how to navigate the dimensions of a car, these features will help keep them from drifting into other lanes or alert them when they do.
- Rear cross-traffic alert detects cars passing behind a vehicle when backing up. For teens learning to drive, backing up is one of the most challenging tasks. This technology allows them to back out of parking spaces more safely.
- Blind spot warning systems sense other vehicles located in the driver’s blind spots. For teen drivers, learning a vehicle’s blind spots and how to check for other vehicles properly takes time; this can help them learn that skill.
Ford’s MyKey and Chevrolet’s Teen Driver modes allow parents to control vehicle safety settings such as speed, radio volume or seat belt alerts. For teen drivers, this feature reduces distracted driving, speeding and ensures they are safely buckled in.
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