"Being safe is the new cool," says Shelby Fix, a 21-year-old safer-driving advocate and automotive journalist. "There are cool colors and options, but side-impact air bags and hands-free devices - that's what's in the new, cool cars."
Fix, known as The Car Coach 2.0, says new technology turns teenagers' heads almost as fast as slick makes and models.
The daughter of automotive expert Lauren Fix, Shelby raced go-karts at age 7 and was raised on talk of crash-test ratings. She grew up hearing the mantra of a mother who loves cars, but loves her kids more - "You can replace cars, but you can't replace a child."
That's why the decision parents and teens make about that first set of wheels is so crucial. "Your car is like your outside shell when you're in it," Shelby says.
She's learned six key factors to look for:
* Newer Cars With Newer Technology.
A used car may lack the technology that could save your child's life. In addition to electronic stability control - which helps drivers keep control of the vehicle - and side-impact air bags, base prices for newer cars are including built-in rearview cameras and park-assist systems.
* The Right Size.
Avoid sport utility vehicles, which have higher rollover rates and can prove tougher to maneuver; and tiny cars, which may offer less protection in a crash. Shelby recommends moderate-size vehicles for more stability and easier, more predictable handling.
* Sedan Style.
Don't give your teen more power than he or she can handle. "Even though sports cars have a strong performance image, a lot of accidents are speed-related," Shelby says.
* Crash-test Ratings.
Check the Insurance Institute for Highway afety's Top Safety Picks each year on its website, www.iihs.org.
* Accident History.
If you're in the market for a used car, get a vehicle history report. It can alert you if a car's been in an accident or damaged in a flood.
-* Mechanic's Signoff.
Have an Automotive Service Excellence-certified mechanic check the vehicle to make sure the used vehicle you're purchasing is a good one.
Check out the vehicles that made USAA's 2013 Top 10 for Teens list. They had to be USAA Preferred vehicles and have an MSRP below $25,500. In addition, each vehicle's safety, reliability, insurance cost and overall value were considered. The cars are:
1. Dodge Dart
2. Dodge Avenger
3. Honda CR-Z
4. Chrysler 200
5. Honda Insight
6. Volkswagen Golf
7. Hyundai Elantra
8. Nissan Versa
9. Kia Optima
10 Chevrolet Malibu
Under watchful eyes
How do your kids drive when you’re not in the passenger seat? A new program from USAA gives you the chance to find out.
USAA is now offering “Young Drivers IntelligenceTM” to members with insured teen drivers free for one year - that’s a $279 value.
“USAA is striving to promote having a conversation with teens about driving habits,” says Shelby Fix, The Car Coach 2.0.
Participants in the voluntary program get a GPS-enabled device that plugs into the teen’s vehicle. It records driving data, such as acceleration, braking, routes, time of day and speed. Then parents and teens can review the data online, offering a chance for parents to coach safe driving behavior and track their child’s progress.
“I had a tracker on my car since the first day I got it,” says Shelby, adding that her mom was notified if she exceeded 60 mph. “My friends said, ‘Your mom is stalking you!’ But if I was ever stuck on the side of road, I would want her to have that information. It taught me to be safer.”
USAA will not use the program to modify insurance policies or premiums.
USAA Preferred vehicles represent vehicles which are determined to be a good financial value using a USAA-developed proprietary statistical model. The model relates MSRP to vehicle features (engine type, drive train, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, number of airbags, transmission, body additions, curb weight, horsepower-to-curb weight, height and vehicle category), fuel economy, insurance cost, additional warranty cost, depreciation, and IIHS Top Safety Pick to determine the value. USAA Preferred vehicles are those vehicles ranked in the top 40% for each vehicle category AND obtain either the Top Safety Pick+ or Top Safety Pick crash test ratings from IIHS. In providing this analysis, USAA does not consider factors other than those disclosed in determining USAA Preferred vehicles.
The Young Drivers Intelligence™ program service is provided by Intelligent Mechatronic Systems, Inc. USAA is offering the Young Drivers Intelligence™ program to members and is not responsible for the actions of Intelligent Mechatronic Systems, Inc. Member and related teen must be listed in an active USAA Auto Insurance policy to take advantage of offer. Limit one per driver who meets the eligibility criteria. While supplies last. Offer not redeemable for cash. Limited-time offer. Offer may be cancelled at any time. Other restrictions may apply. Offer details available on usaa.com. Device cannot be sold. After 12 months, the service will expire. USAA is not responsible for any actions resulting from use of the device and program.
Use of the term “member” or “membership” does not convey any eligibility rights for auto and property insurance products, or legal or ownership rights in USAA.
The trademarks, logos and names of other companies, products and services are the property of their respective owners.
USAA means United Services Automobile Association and its insurance, banking, investment and other companies. Banks Member FDIC. Investments provided by USAA Investment Management Company and USAA Financial Advisors Inc., both registered broker dealers.