Your child is finally ready for their first car. You’re excited. And worried. You want them to be safe drivers, but you also know other drivers might not be as cautious. Teen crash rates are higher than any other age group, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Beyond buckling up

“Parents want to make sure that before teens are driving on their own that they have as much experience as possible,” said Jessica Cicchino, vice president of research for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). “Teens are more likely to speed, so if there’s a curve or it’s wet outside, they’ll be less likely to control their vehicle.”

“We want parents to know that a teen’s first car is more than just a financial decision.”

It’s important to know if your teen’s vehicle is built to handle these possibilities. Whether you’re purchasing a new one for them or passing down a used family car, there are some important factors to consider.

Keeping safety in mind, big, boring and slow is best. Larger, heavier cars provide more crash protection, and getting a car without high horsepower is essential because teens try to test those limits. It’s all in the frame. In a crash, the car’s safety cage is there to protect the occupants — some vehicles do better than others. Both IIHS and the government perform crash tests so you can look up which models have the highest safety ratings. Additionally, electronic stability control is a must. This counteracts the loss-of-control crashes that teens are prone to have.

Worth the money

“We want parents to know that a teen’s first car is more than just a financial decision,” said Cicchino. “Parents tend not to spend a whole lot, but they should purchase as much safety as they can afford.”