Posted On: July 25, 2011 by Steven D. Eversole

Alabama Car Accidents: Choosing the Car that's Right for your Teen

The family of a teen that died in an Alabama car accident was recently awarded $40 million from Kia Motors. The wrongful death verdict was based upon allegations of a manufacturing defect that affected the seat belt latching mechanisms of certain Kia models, according to Alabama Live.

This is just another example of why it is so important to be involved in the selection and purchasing of your teens first car. You want them to be safe, but you want something that's economical and easy on the bank. There's a lot to think about when making this decision. Do I get them a new or used car? Who's getting the bill? What type of insurance do I get them? SUV or car?

Our Alabama car accident attorneys are here to help. There are a number of things to be considered when searching for a vehicle for your newly licensed teen. The first question you're probably going to ask yourself is whether you should get a new or a used car. It's important to remember that financially, you're obviously going to be better off with a used car.

"A first time driver doesn't need a new car, but of course they want one," says Lori Mackey, president of Prosperity4Kids. "The depreciation, probability of fender benders and the price tag [means new] is not the most logical way to go."

After you've figured out if you're going to go new or used, you're probably going to have to think about which type of car to get them. This is when you should look into vehicle's crash-test information, reliability ratings and safety features. This type of information can be found on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety websites.

"Choose a car with a responsive chassis -- one with good handling, quick steering and great brakes -- that takes advantage of a teen driver's naturally quick reaction skills," says Bob Gritzinger, executive editor of

Yes, the newer cars will come with all the latest safety features, but late-model used cars will come equipped with airbags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control too, and their power and performance won't overwhelm a young, newly-licensed driver. Less power is always a better choice for a teen driver.

"I see these young, inexperienced drivers in Mustangs, BMWs, and large SUVs. These automobiles are big, powerful and difficult to control for even experienced drivers. In the hands of a new driver, they can be deadly weapons," says LeeAnn Shattuck, co-owner and chief car chick with Women's Automotive Solutions.

You can't go too small either. While smaller cars may be lighter on the wallet, as they cost less in fuel, these small, two-door cars can be trouble. These tiny vehicles are less likely to protect passengers in the event of an accident.

"Your teen is safest in a mid-sized sedan with a four cylinder engine, airbags and a good crash test rating," warns Shattuck.

You're warned. This process is going to take quite some time and requires a pretty hefty amount of research. You shouldn't feel that you need to buy the first car you see. Take your time and look around.

"Having a car is not a birthright," says Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, who raised four children. "Today's teens seem to think that they should have a car waiting for them in the driveway when they return home from the Motor Vehicle Department with their driver's license. If that's right for your family, fine. But don't be held hostage to peer pressure, and by that I mean from other families who are buying their teen a car."

Once you find the perfect car for your young driver, make sure you talk to them about the responsibility that comes along with a driver's license. Make sure they understand the consequences of poor driving habits. You should even try creating a parent-teen driving contract to help you and your teen understand and abide by some ground rules for the road. Include appropriate curfews, passenger limits and consequences for breaking these rules.

Additional Resources:

Mobile County jury slaps Kia with $40 million wrongful death verdict, By Rena Havner Philips, Alabama Live

Buying Your Teenager's First Car: What You Need to Know, by Sheryl Nance-Nash, Daily Finance

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