The roads in Brazoria County are getting congested, and another round of 15-year-olds are getting set to turn 16 and get their driver's licenses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2,163 drivers aged 16-19 were killed in 2015, and 243,243 had to be treated in emergency rooms for injuries they received in auto accidents.
The CDC also says that teen drivers are three times as likely to be involved in a fatal crash, are more likely to underestimate dangerous driving situations, speed without allowing the appropriate distance between vehicles, and engage in other risky behaviors.
Keeping teen drivers safe is a concern for most parents and California-based Mercury Insurance has released a list of the top 10 safest and most affordable 2016 vehicles to insure for teen drivers, based on ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Teenagers are statistically the most likely to be involved in a collision, so it’s important for them to be in a vehicle that offers them the most protection if that happens,” said Jim Reeves, group manager of reserach and development for Mercury Insurance.
The NHTSA evaluates new vehicles in two areas: Crashworthiness, that is how well a vehicle will protect occupants in the event of a crash, and crash avoidance and mitigation, which evaluates how technology can help prevent or reduce the severity of an accident.
Crashworthiness is rated on five points:
* Moderate overlap front. A car drives at 40 mph toward a 2-foot-tall barrier with approximately 40 percent of the total width of the car striking the barrier.
* Small overlap front. A vehicle travels at 40 mph toward a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier with 25 percent of the total width of the vehicle strikes the barrier.
* Side testing. A 3,300-pound SUV-like barrier strikes the driver’s side door at 31 mph.
* Roof strength. The roof is crushed in 5 inches to simulate the effect of a rollover and the degree of force needed to crush the roof is measured.
* Head restraints. Crash dummies are used to simulate what happens in a rear-end collision, since good restraints can prevent neck sprains, strains and other whiplash injuries.
* Crash prevention systems are rated basic, advanced or superior depending on the type of systems offered and the car’s performance in track tests.
Mercury Insurance compiled its list based on the NHTSA ratings and the cost to fully insure the vehicles (liability, comprehensive and collision) in California.
Read on to see the list of recommendations:
10. Honda HR-V EX
NHTSA rates the vehicles as good, acceptable, marginal or poor. For crashworthiness, the Honda HR-V, a small SUV, scored either “good” or “acceptable.” While it was not rated for front cash protection, its headlights were rated “poor” and its child seat anchors were rated “marginal” for ease of use. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price ranges from $19,215 to $21,315.
9. Dodge Dart
This small car weighs just over 3,000 pounds and gets approximately 28 mpg in the city and 41 on the highway. For crashworthiness, the Dart was rated “good” or “acceptable.” The MSRP $16,995 to $19,395.
8. Subaru Outback
The midsize car gets approximately 25 mpg for city driving and a slightly higher 33 mpg on the highway. NHTSA rated it “good” in all categories for crashworthiness and rated it “superior” with optional equipment for front crash protection. The MSRP is $24,995 to $30,395.
7. Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
This small car ranks first out of nine wagons, according to U.S. News and World Report, and is one of the least expensive wagons in the class. It gets anywhere from 25-31 mpg in the city and 35-43 mpg on the highway. The NHTSA rated it “good” in all categories for crashworthiness and “advanced” with optional equipment for front crash protection. The driver assistance package offers forward collision warning if following a vehicle too closely and applies the brakes if it senses that a crash is imminent. It also offers blind-spot monitoring and warns drivers if they cross traffic lanes. The MSRP ranges from $21,625 to $29,385.
6. Hyundai Elantra
The first of two vehicles by Hyundai to make the list, the Elantra rated “good” in almost every crashworthiness category. Front crash protection was not rated. The car averages 28 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. Depending on whether the car has a manual or automatic transmission, the MSRP ranges from $17,250 to $19,700.
5. Honda Fit
The second Honda vehicle to make the list, the Fit is the only minicar on the list, but scored either “good” or “acceptable” in all crashworthiness categories. The Fit boasts the best gas mileage of all of the vehicles on the list with 33 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. The MSRP ranges from $15,890 to $17,800 for a manual transmission.
4. Honda CR-V LX
The last Honda vehicle to make the list, the CR-V LX offers a less obstructed view than some other vehicles in the same compact sport utility class. NHTSA rated it “good” in every category for crashworthiness and “superior” for front crash prevention with option equipment. The CR-V costs a little more with a base price of $25,145.
3. Hyundai Tucson
The second vehicle from Hyundai to make the list is the Tucson, a small SUV which was rated “good” across the board for crashworthiness and “superior” for front crash protection with optional equipment. The headlights were rated acceptable for certain trim packages. Gas mileage for the Tucson averaged 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The mid-priced SUV ranges from $22,700 to $26,150.
2. Kia Soul
One of the least expensive cars on the list, this subcompact was rated “good” for overall crashworthiness and “basic” for front crash protection with optional equipment. It averages 24 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. With a price tag of $15,900 for a manual transmission to $19,400 for an automatic with some bells and whistles, it offers parents an affordable option for a new vehicle.
1. Kia Sportage
Another vehicle by Kia grabs the top spot on the list. The Sportage, a compact sport utility vehicle, gets high marks for crashworthiness, scoring a “good” in every category. NHTSA also rated it “superior” with optional equipment for front crash prevention. The only low mark was a “poor” for the headlights. The city mpg is slightly lower than some of the other vehicles on the list with 21. It does a little better on the highway with 28 mpg. There are multiple configurations available, so the MSRP ranges from a low of $22,150 to $29,990.
Parents can check the crashworthiness of any vehicle by visiting the NHTSA website for more information.
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