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IIHS on vehicles for teens: Slow and stodgy is better than fast and flashy

A parent teaching his daughter to drive
Parent with daughter behind the wheel.

This year's list of best used and new cars for teen drivers is out, issued by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The focus is the same: What's reasonably safe for an experienced driver may not be safe for a teenager.

The insurance institute says teen drivers ages 16 to 19 have a fatal crash rate nearly three times that of drivers ages 20 and up, so they should be driving the safest cars possible.

That means no sports cars or high horsepower engines, to minimize the temptation to speed; no very small cars, which are less safe in crashes; and no really big cars, which can be harder to handle, have a longer braking distance, and are more dangerous in crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists.

46 used vehicles and 16 new ones are on the list.

The Insurance Institute said prices for new and used vehicles remain "stubbornly high."

"It’s unfortunate that in recent years we’ve had to relax our price limits for this list, but we won’t budge on the other criteria,” said IIHS Chief Research Officer David Zuby. “With road safety statistics headed the wrong way, it’s more important than ever that inexperienced, young drivers have vehicles with a high degree of occupant protection as well as good emergency handling, braking and reliability.”

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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