MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Half of drivers aged 15-17 who died in car crashes spanning 2008-2012 were driving vehicles at least 11 years old, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It's a scary statistic more parents may wish they knew.
"The older vehicles don't have the up-to-date safety equipment the newer model cars made in the last few years do have," according to Gary Freeman with C&G Auto Repair in Myrtle Beach.
Researchers with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found few vehicles driven by teenagers have extra security features like side airbags. They are common in newer vehicles, but come at a higher price.
"Shopping for cars, a lot of times because of budget restraints, you have to find something that's affordable and in doing so, you have to go back- an older car that might not necessarily have air bags, or backup sensors, or automatic headlights," says Freeman.
While you may pay extra for them, Freeman says it could make a difference: "All of those are important things that help you avoid accidents. They won't keep you from having one, but they'll help you."
Freeman also raised two teen drivers. "My kids had cars, each one of them. When they were 16 they got a car, each one of them had an accident." He says he tells parents looking for cars for their teens that they usually will get into a fender bender before too long. "I think you'll find that's the case. I know I've sold cars to teenagers, first time cars, and I tell parents: it's not if, it's when. They will have a fender bender of some kind."
He says while buying an older car may be cheaper to fix, spending the money on a newer car with more safety features could save much more than money. "They do save lives," Freeman said.
Experts say driving is especially dangerous for teens because they're so inexperienced. It's up to parents to help secure them with a vehicle that will keep them safe. The IIHS has a long list of used vehicles they recommend for teens based on safety with average online prices. You can access that list here: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicles-for-teens.