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One of our customers recently told us that their daughter just got her driver’s license, and she asked if we agreed that her SUV would be the best of their vehicles for her daughter to drive. We had to disagree!

An SUV is not the best vehicle for teen driver safety. It is like a truck! Many believe that if there is an accident, they will be less likely to get hurt. But the truth is that a teen driver is more likely to experience an accident when driving an SUV/truck.

The many reasons this is true range from minor incidents occurring because it is harder to judge where the corners of the vehicle are when parking and driving, to more severe incidents due to the higher center of gravity in these vehicles…they are much more likely to roll over during panic situations. In between, there is also the increase in stopping distance required for these vehicles. More distance is needed between an SUV/truck and other vehicles in order for it to come to a full stop. Lastly, these vehicles do not respond as quickly and securely as a regular car.

Any later (1995+) make and model of mid-size vehicle is your best bet. Make sure that the brakes are in good repair with quality brake material being used. It is also a good idea to take the car to a trusted repair facility for an inspection prior to turning it over to your child, just to make sure that everything is in good running condition….lights working, correct fluid levels, etc.

To help new drivers, or anyone approaching the driving age, with accident prevention, taking them to the Malibu Grand Prix will help get them acclimated to braking and steering and turning corners. The corners on the track are sharp, so speed and control are needed, and there is nothing to run into!

Once a driver has at least a couple of months’ driving experience, then a defensive driving course is highly recommended. My daughter and I both went through this course when she reached driving age. Locally, I recommend the Highway Survival course at Jim Russell Racing School (Sears Point Raceway, now known as Infineon) in Sonoma. Course instruction includes accident avoidance, skid control, high-speed performance driving exercises (yes, 65-70 mph is high speed!), etc.

There are other courses in Phoenix, Arizona at the Bob Bondurant Racing School and also in Monterey (Mazda Raceway) at Skip Barber Racing School. I strongly recommend that the parents take these courses along with their child. Even though the cost of these courses may seem expensive ($495 for the Jim Russell half day course), it is nothing compared to our and our children’s safety on the roads.

Donna McCord
Dean’s Automotive, Inc.


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