So, you’ve recently attained your full driver’s license and you have a new car that’s yours to drive. Congratulations! A whole new world of freedoms have been opened up for you. (Still looking at vehicles for you or your teen? Read on, we will cover the safety features to look for and how to choose the right car, truck or van for new drivers later in this article.)
Before you go driving off into the sunset in your new ride, it’s important to take some time to learn all the ins and outs of the car. Becoming familiar with all the features not only helps you feel more comfortable when you get behind the wheel, but it also enhances your safety – and the safety of others on the road with you.
The Importance of Familiarizing Yourself with Your New Vehicle
Today’s cars and trucks are equipped with a variety of safety features, stereo and navigation options, braking systems, traction control, and so much more. The dealership may have spent a few minutes walking you through all those buttons and lights on the dashboard, but do you really understand how all the systems function?
Being able to react quickly to any situation is key to safe driving. This means understanding how to adapt to changing weather or road conditions at a moment’s notice, as these conditions can significantly impact the ability to drive safely. Before you put the key in the ignition, you should know at a minimum the following:
- How to turn on the headlights and windshield wipers,
- How the instrumentation panel works,
- How to properly adjust your seats and mirrors.
- How the backup cameras and sensors work.
- How to use your adaptive cruise control for a longer road trip.
- How to use any extra safety systems, such as blind spot detection and/or lane departure warning, installed on your car.
Take some time to test out each of these features and ensure that you can switch them on at a moment’s notice and interpret any alerts you might receive while driving. For more details on specific auto features, check out our articles on the science behind proper seat and mirror position, and everything you need to know about backup cameras and alarms.
Tips for Buying a Car for a Teen
Looking for a car for your new teen driver? Driving and maintaining their own car teaches teens responsibility, especially if you include them in the buying process and they will be helping with the payments.
Be sure to do your research first. Your biggest concern with new, inexperienced drivers should be safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has lots of information regarding crash test results on all the different models of cars. Look for cars with 5-star ratings, as these will be the safest options for your teen. Also take a look at the reliability and quality ratings on a website like J.D. Power and Associates.
Consider the size of the car as well. Bigger is not always better! We recommend avoiding large SUVs or trucks, as these can be more difficult for new drivers to handle. Plus, they are at a greater risk of rollover because of their higher centers of gravity. Likewise, a very lightweight compact car is not the safest option, either. They don’t provide as much protection as a larger car. And it goes without saying that fast sports cars will offer way too much temptation for young drivers to speed.
Not only will choosing the right vehicle give you extra peace of mind as your teen driver ventures out into the world, a safer car will also help keep your insurance premiums lower, since the accident risk is decreased.
Safety Features to Consider
The types of safety features available on a vehicle will vary, depending on whether you’re buying a new car or an older car for your teen. Many newer cars have crash-avoidance features and technology to help your teen avoid distracted driving. New cars are also required by law to have front and side airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and electronic stability control.
There’s nothing wrong with buying an older vehicle as long as it has the necessary features to keep your teen safe behind the wheel. Be sure to look for features like airbags, anti-lock brakes, automatic transmission and daytime running lights.
DriveTeam’s Vehicle Orientation Program
DriveTeam recently announced our New Vehicle Orientation Program designed to make every driver on the road more knowledgeable and confident in their new vehicle. This one-day, four-hour course features both classroom sessions and real-life driving experiences where your teen will learn everything about their vehicle’s safety systems to the cameras, mirror adjustments, traction control and so much more. Contact us today to get started.