2015 was the deadliest driving year since 2008 after an 8% increase in traffic deaths between 2014 and 2015. That 8% is the largest year-to-year increase in a half-century, according to estimates by the National Safety Council.
About 38,300 were killed on U.S. roads in 2015, while 4.4 million people were injured.
The National Safety Council said that a stronger economy and lower unemployment rates contributed to this increase in traffic deaths and injuries, added by lower gas prices. With driving more affordable, more people are on the road. With gas prices already 28% lower than in 2014 and continuing to drop, this may be a trend which continues, making driving safety an increasingly important issue.
Teens are especially at risk, being three times more likely to crash a vehicle than a 20+ adult, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. That means the choice of automobile for your teen driver is a very important one for their safety on the road. Consumer Reports has some tips to consider when selecting a vehicle:
1. The fewer cylinders, the better
Four cylinder engines are perfect because they don’t have so much muscle that they’re unwieldy. Usually, that means a nice and boring family sedan! Avoid V6 versions of the popular sedans; they’re too powerful in the hands of an inexperienced driver. Meanwhile, forget about the need for speed: Look for a humble ride that goes zero to 60 mph in anywhere from 7.5 seconds to 11 seconds.
2. Forget about a sports car
Sports cars are another no-no. Too much muscle! They also cost too much and come with higher insurance rates and maintenance costs. While you might be tempted to buy an older model that’s more affordable, it may lack current safety features.
3. Skip the SUV too
SUVs and pickups might seem like a no-brainer when it comes to protecting a young driver. But while they’re generally good in multi-vehicle crashes vs. smaller cars, they’re more prone to single vehicle crashes and may not boast the advantage you think. According to IIHS, “even though passenger car occupant death rates are similar in single (55%) and multi-vehicle (51%) crashes, single vehicle crashes accounted for 61 and 62% of SUV and pickup truck fatalities in 2013″ (Consumer Reports).
4. Minivans can contribute to distracted driving dangers
Distracted driving is a big deal for drivers of all ages. Whether it’s texting, blaring music, transporting distracting passengers, or new technology features, the result is the same: You can be involved in a potentially deadly crash. Minivans and three-row SUVs allow your teen driver to have a larger number of unruly kids out for a ride creating more chances for potentially deadly distractions!
5. Don’t forget the #1 safety feature!
With all the new safety features available, there is one make-or-break feature you need, particularly if you have younger drivers. Today’s cars are better at limiting injury or fatality when in an accident due in large part to electronic stability control (ESC). Remember this rule: Do *not* buy a car for a kid if it does not have ESC.