They grow up so fast, don’t they? One minute you’re strapping them into their booster seat and the next they’ve passed their road test and they’re ready to get a car of their own. In today’s world, kids need to get road smart and driving as early in life as possible. As a parent, it’s part of your job to ensure that they grow up with a healthy knowledge and respect when it comes to road and car safety. This begins when they first start riding in cars and crossing the road safely but it doesn’t end when they start driving on their own unsupervised. In fact, in many ways, this is where the learning curve truly begins.
They’re going to be driving around on their own for the first time so it’s natural for parents to want to be actively involved in the decision of which car they’ll be driving. That said, you should still involve your son or daughter in the discussion. Teenagers are more responsible than popular media will have us believe so while they may be in the market for buying an air lift system or a rear spoiler that could accommodate a whole cabbage, it’s likely that they’ll want the same thing you do; a car that’s reliable and safe. Whatever way you have your sights on, though, it’s important to ask yourself some searching questions…
Can I afford it?
Will you be taking financial responsibility for the car or will you share it with your son or daughter? If the responsibility is shared then do they have the facilities to pay you back through their job or personal savings? It’s important to teach your kids financial responsibility and helping them shoulder the responsibility of paying for their first car is a great and important step. It’s important, though, not to give them a free pass on this responsibility or let it slide if they miss a payment.
Do they really need one?
Virtually all road worthy 16-year-olds are convinced that they absolutely should own a car. You, however, are in a much better position to judge whether they need one or not. If your kid has a lot of responsibilities, juggling school and work and a part-time job then it’s likely that they’d benefit from owning their own car. If they just want to cruise around with their friends, though, it’s likely they don’t.
How do you know it’s safe?
This is the big one! For those of us who drive but aren’t car literate, it can be tricky to know what to look for. You should look for something with an engine size that’s manageable for your kid’s driving ability yet with the heft to protect them in the event of a collision. A medium-sized sedan may not be the sexiest option but you’ll be hard pressed to find anything more reliable. A reasonable mileage, decent brakes and intact suspension (without fluid leaks) are also must haves. Check out the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website (iihs.org) to see which cars have the highest safety ratings.
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