What Are the Safest Cars for Your Teenager?

Stephen R. Hasner
Managing Partner at Hasner Law PC
May 10, 2024
What Are the Safest Cars for Your Teenager?

You have to tread a fine line when buying a car for your teen. Newer cars have all of the latest safety features and can reduce the chance of a car accident. The safety features in newer cars can also lessen the severity of any injuries if a car accident happens.

But newer cars cost more to buy and insure. Teen drivers account for approximately 8% of all licensed drivers in Georgia while being involved in 10% of all vehicle accidents. In other words, young drivers get into about 25% more accidents than they should, based solely on their population share.

Here are some features you should look for when buying a car for your teenager, along with a list of the safest cars.

Why Do Teens Have Different Needs?

Why Do Teens Have Different Needs?

Teens get into car accidents for different reasons than adults. 

The top three causes of teen accidents stem from inexperience. They include:

  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • Driving in an erratic or reckless manner
  • Following inappropriately

Teens need practice and experience before they can drive safely. Georgia uses a graduated licensing system to try to ensure that teens get the practice they need. But the one year of experience driving on a restricted license gives teens only a fraction of the time they need behind the wheel to drive safely.

Teens also have a high rate of distracted driving. The CDC reports that nearly 10% of all teenagers killed in car accidents were distracted.

Since 2018, Georgia’s hands-free law has applied to adults and teens equally. Before 2018, teens could not use their phones inside the car while driving. After 2018, teens could use phones with the hands-free feature activated.

What Features Are Available to Protect Teens?

Based on the statistics, some of the features you should look for in your teen’s car include:

Anti-Lock Brakes

Anti-lock brakes (ABS) pump automatically to prevent the car from skidding. This reduces your braking distance for hard stops. It also helps you maintain control while braking by preventing you from skidding sideways.

ABS has been required on all U.S. cars since 2012.


Front airbags deploy in a front-end collision. They prevent you from hitting your head on the steering wheel or dashboard.

You may have heard that airbags cause more injuries than they prevent. This is a myth. Since they became mandatory in 1998, airbags have saved over 50,000 lives.

This is particularly important because teen girls have a lower rate of seatbelt usage than average in Georgia. Airbags and seatbelts work best together. But for people not wearing seatbelts, an airbag can cushion at least the initial impact in a frontal collision.

Traction Control

Traction control dynamically shifts power away from wheels that are slipping to wheels that have traction. It helps your teen keep control of a vehicle on slick surfaces like water or gravel.

Traction control is not mandatory, but it’s added to many cars manufactured after 2012.

Electronic Stability Control

Electronic stability control (ESC) monitors your car as you steer. If your car is not going where you are steering, the car corrects itself to try to navigate you in the right direction.

ESC can help your teen maintain control of the vehicle. It corrects for oversteer and understeer. It can also counter when your teen overcorrects after losing control of the vehicle.

This feature has been mandatory on all vehicles made in the U.S. since 2012.

Hands-Free Calling

Hands-free calling is now mandatory in Georgia. Most new vehicles offer hands-free calling as an option. For older vehicles, you may need to install an aftermarket hands-free calling system.

If your teen’s car does not have a hands-free calling system, your teen should put the phone away while driving. Driving while holding a phone violates Georgia law, and it vastly increases the odds that your teen will get into a distracted driving accident.

What Is the Safest Body Style for Teens?

Sports cars look great, but they are expensive and cost a lot to insure. They also have a high power-to-weight ratio. This can make them hard for an inexperienced driver to control.

Compact vehicles have the lowest cost and the cheapest insurance. But the low weight and small passenger compartment provide the lowest level of protection.

Mid- and full-sized sedans provide a good compromise of cost and protection. They usually do not cost much more than compacts to purchase or insure. They also provide a spacious passenger compartment that protects your teen a bit better than a compact.

SUVs are usually more expensive than sedans. They provide a lot of weight to protect your teen. They also sit up higher. This gives your teen a better view of traffic and makes your teen more visible to other vehicles.

Bear in mind that SUVs have a higher risk of rollover accidents than sedans and compacts. This can even happen in single-car accidents on uneven ground.

What Are Some of the Safest Cars for Teenagers?

Some new vehicles that combine the features that will protect your teen include:

  • Mazda 3
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Honda Civic
  • Subaru Legacy
  • Nissan Altima
  • Toyota Camry
  • Honda Accord
  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Subaru Forester
  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Hyundai Santa Fe
  • Kia Sorento
  • Honda Odyssey

If you are looking at used vehicles, look for model years after 2012. These years will have ABS, ECS, and airbags. Any of the models above will provide all of the features you need. 

Other cars to consider buying for your teenager include:

  • Toyota Prius
  • Hyundai Elantra GT
  • Subaru Impreza
  • Volkswagen Jetta
  • Volvo S60
  • BMW 3 Series
  • Ford Taurus
  • Buick Encore
  • Volvo XC60
  • GMC Terrain
  • Ford Edge
  • Audi Q5
  • Toyota Sienna
  • Kia Sedona

These cars are a bit more expensive when new, but you can get them at a much more affordable price if you buy them used.

Choose a Car to Avoid and Minimize Accidents

Picking a car for your teen takes some careful consideration. You need to decide whether you want to look at new cars or used cars. Once you settle on the cars you want to look at, you should focus your search on post-2012 cars. These cars have most, if not all, of the features your teen needs to drive safely.

But your teen cannot avoid every accident. Sometimes accidents happen due to the negligence of others. If your teen has an auto accident due to someone else’s actions, contact a personal injury lawyer for a free consultation.

Author Stephen Headshot
Managing Partner at Hasner Law PC
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Stephen Hasner is the founder and managing partner of Hasner Law PC. Since being licensed in Florida in 1997 and in Georgia in 1999, Stephen has worked tirelessly to help Georgia residents navigate the legal process following a serious injury. This includes injuries sustained at work, in motor vehicle accidents, and in cases of personal injury. The team at Hasner Law is dedicated to securing compensation for their clients who have been injured through no fault of their own.