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Safety group's picks can help Florida teens avoid fatal crashes

Many Florida parents are buying their teens their first car this summer as they prepare to go off to college. Some parents of teens still in high school find it's more convenient to get their son or daughter a car so that they can get to school, a part-time job and other activities without borrowing the family car or getting a ride from mom or dad.

While cost is likely an issue for parents shopping for cars with their teens, safety is no doubt an overriding concern. According to the Automobile Association of America, teen driving fatalities have risen more than 25 percent in the last decade. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently said that teens who die in auto accidents are more likely to be in older, unsafe vehicles.

A correspondent reporting for CBS News described the ideal car recommended by the IIHS for teens as "big, slow and ugly." The IIHS doesn't put it specifically that way in the news release on its website. However, the organization does recommend larger cars that have electronic stability control and other safety features. An IIHS spokesperson says that electronic stability control "reduces the risk of a fatal single vehicle crash by about half" because when a driver encounters a slippery road or curve, it is easier to control the vehicle.

So what type of vehicles should parents avoid for their young drivers? According to the IIHS, they should stay away from small cars and those with high horsepower. The group recommended a number of fairly recent models at different price points for parents and teens shopping for a used car that will perform well in a crash. These are listed on their website at http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/iihs-issues-recommendations-on-used-vehicles-for-teens-after-research-finds-many-arent-driving-the-safest-ones.

Of course, in addition to ensuring that your teen is driving a safe car, it's essential to reinforce safe driving habits that can prevent auto accidents. These include not talking or texting while driving, not drinking before driving, wearing a seatbelt and obeying speed limits and other traffic regulations. However, if your teen is involved in an accident, regardless of who is at fault, a safer vehicle can make the difference between him or her surviving it or not.

Source: CBS News, "Report says teens' cars not safe enough" Jul. 16, 2014

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