Selecting a Child’s First Car
Looking for your child’s first car is often tough for a parent. Your children want a really nice car — like some of their friends have, they say — and as much as you would like to provide that, you just can’t afford it.
If you are fortunate enough to get your kid the car of their dreams, what is the right thing to do? Are you sending the right message by buying your child something brand-new? There is no real right or wrong answer here, but bear this in mind: odds are, whatever you give your kid is going to get wrecked. As a parent, you hope and pray it is minor and there are no injuries, but you must face the facts.
I talk all the time about driver distraction when it comes to kids. Talking and texting are real dangers with kids. They really have no conception of how fast things can happen when they take their eyes off the road. I recommend printing one of a number of contracts you can find online to make an agreement with your child to keep them from texting while driving.
Another big distraction is too many people in a car. This is especially true of guys and the way they tend to horse around. Also with the guys more than the girls, speed is a factor.
Luckily, in this day and age, technology can monitor your child’s driving habits when you are not in the car. You can have devices installed in the car that will alert you by email or phone if your kid gets over a pre-set speed. You can set parameters for the areas they are allowed to drive so that you will be alerted if your child ventures beyond that area.
Ford has a product called SmartKey, which allows you to set a maximum level for the volume on the radio. It also gives the driver a loud alert when the car is low on gas and will drive the driver crazy if everyone in the car is not wearing a seatbelt. There are even iPhone apps that cost virtually nothing to monitor your child’s driving behavior. Even OnStar will now let you monitor driving behavior.
One last warning is with SUVs. Some are fine, but others have a really high center of gravity, which can become dangerous because young drivers tend to over-steer in emergencies. Make sure to find out the rollover propensity of whatever you are considering to purchase.
When considering a classic or vintage car, while it would probably be cool, the newer the car, the more safety features it will have. As always, the more airbags the better in the event of an accident.
We can’t be with our kids when they leave the nest but we can sure try our best to protect them. We are lucky to be in an age of technology that might keep them just a little safer.