Whether it’s you or a child figure whom you supervise, it goes without saying that the right vehicle is essential to a safe and fulfilling driving experience. This is never more important than with a first-time driver, and we all surely remember how scary it was when we were brand new to the tires on the asphalt. There’s so much responsibility to keep up with, and it’s easy to forget as an experienced driver that it’s not yet habitual for a newcomer to use turn signals and read road signs ahead. Here, we’ll go over seven important areas to think about when looking at a vehicle for a novice operator.
1. Safety Ratings
Every new vehicle that’s released has a battery of tests that it needs to pace through before it can be released to the public. These tests go through everything from roll cage durability to air bags, seat belts, chassis strength, ablative functions and other aspects that will matter in a real-life accident. Naturally, you’ll want to choose a vehicle that has high safety ratings since there’s a markedly elevated chance that the first-time driver will wind up in a collision.
2. Automatic or Manual
From the get-go, automatic transmissions will be much easier for a first-time driver to learn. Because the car handles the shifting on its own, the driver can focus more of their attention on the road ahead and the vehicles around them. This also means that the driver will have an easier time using peripherals inside the vehicle such as the radio or turn signal. However, bear in mind that automatic transmissions tend to have shorter lifespans and lower gas mileage than their manual counterparts.
3. Temperament and Handling
With a fresh driver behind the wheel, you don’t want to put them in charge of a vehicle where it’s difficult to work the pedals, turn signal and steering wheel together. Every vehicle will feel a little different, and while compacts tend to feel tighter and more responsive, midsize cars and SUVs will feel smoother. With these thoughts in mind, the best way to ensure that a first-time driver feels at home in their new vehicle is to actually put them behind the wheel and let them get a feel for it.
4. Safety Features
Contemporary vehicles of all kinds offer a bevy of safety features that assist in variety of situations. Some of these features include anti-lock brake systems (ABS), reverse cameras and transmission locks during heavy braking. Ideally, you should consult with the manufacturer to hone your understanding of how a new vehicle will keep a first-time driver and their passengers safe when catastrophe strikes.
This works both ways: You need to be visible to others on the road as much as those drivers need to be visible to you. Compound mirrors are sometimes found on midsize offerings and will help cover blind spots, which is even more important in larger models. Keep in mind that every vehicle with a closed cabin will have a blind spot on the right-back end, and the usual array of mirrors included in most vehicles isn’t enough to ensure total coverage in this regard. It would also be a good idea to stick with a brighter neutral color for the vehicle itself — think white or tan.
6. Gas Mileage, Braking System and Transmission
Stepping away from the topic of safety for a moment, it’s worth noting that new drivers aren’t going to be the most graceful creatures with the pedals. Every experienced driver knows when to let the vehicle coast and when to begin braking as they approach a slowdown ahead of them, especially accounting weather conditions. Because a first-time driver won’t have a fine grasp of these skills yet, the wear and tear on the gas mileage and transmission will be much higher on their first vehicle.
7. Warranty and Insurance
Above all, it’s important to understand that there’s only so much on the road that you can control. A first-time driver will learn sooner or later how to handle themselves behind the wheel, and that may mean an accident or two before they figure it out. You should carefully consider the manufacturer warranty and insurance plans that befit a high-risk driver before purchasing a new vehicle.