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Tips On Buying The Safest Cars For Teens

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A new survey shows the majority of American teenagers need to drive safer cars.

The study found that teens involved in deadly accidents are more likely to be driving older, unsafe vehicles.

83 percent of parents who purchased vehicles for their teens bought used cars, but as CBS 2's Dick Brennan reported, not all used cars are equal.

What young people say is important when buying a car could make a parent shudder.

"I'm definitely into fast cars, so yeah that's pretty important," said Richard Cricola.

"I don't want to speed, but I want a car that can go pretty fast, yea," said Chris Keating.

Parents on the other hand say they have a different agenda.

"Safety would be first, nothing fast and furious," said one parent.

But the new study suggests parents aren't getting the message and often buy used cars for teens that don't offer protection from crashes.

"It's so surprising how many teens are driving vehicles that aren't the safest," said Ann McCarthy, with Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tested dozens of used cars to find models best for teens.

AAA's Robert Sinclair says all of the safest vehicles share certain basics.

Size is one of those basics. A larger, heavier car like a mid-sized SUV is much safer than a compact car, Brennan reported.

"Bigger, heavier vehicles do better in crashes, protect the occupants as opposed to smaller, lighter vehicles," Sinclair said.

Sinclair also suggested to choose a vehicle with limited horsepower, which can cut down on speeding.

An electronic stability control system is also an essential that can help an inexperienced driver regain control, Brennan reported.

"The vehicle will intervene to help maintain the vehicle on the right path when you get into a low traction situation," Sinclair said.

Parents should also look for vehicles with the highest safety rating, including airbags.

"It's critical that they get a vehicle that's going to be there for them in the event they get into trouble or even better, help them stay out of trouble," Sinclair said.

The cars recommended by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety range in price from $4,000 to $20,000.

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