NZTA urging parents to get teen drivers into safer cars


The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is urging the parents of teenage drivers to get their teens behind the wheel of the safest car the family can afford.

NZTA Chief Executive Geoff Dangerfield said road crashes were the single biggest killer of teenagers in New Zealand, teens were over-represented in crash statistics, and a big part of the reason was the lack of safety features in the cars many teens drive.

Research from Monash University into crashes involving young New Zealand drivers suggests that if all teens drove the safest car available (of the same age as their current car), death and serious injury rates for teens could be reduced by more than 70 per cent.

New Zealand research by the University of Otago has found that while most parents have some say in the cars their teens choose, only one in five parents consider safety factors in the choice of vehicle for their teen - with most considering small engine and vehicle size as the most important factors.

“We need parents to put more emphasis on safety when they are choosing a car for their teens. Getting your teen behind the wheel of the safest car you can afford could save their life,” Mr Dangerfield said.

“There has been a big push on increasing the skills and safety of teenage drivers in the past year, through increasing the driving age and introducing a more challenging restricted licence test. While improving the skills of young drivers is vital, we also need to improve the safety of the cars they are driving. Even the most careful teen drivers make mistakes, and a car with good safety features can help to ensure that mistakes don’t cost lives or limbs.”

Safer vehicle choices don’t have to be the newest, most expensive or even the biggest models.  The latest used car safety ratings show that there are a number of makes and models of used cars with 4 or 5-star safety ratings that could be affordable and appropriate choices for young drivers.

Information about safer used cars, based on protection from injury and value for money, is available in the recently released Used Car Safety Ratings brochure released by the NZTA and the Automobile Association. The brochure provides the most up-to-date information on which used vehicles provide the best protection, including safer options for young drivers. The information is also available via link)

Mr Dangerfield also encouraged parents to look carefully at the option of sharing the family car with teen drivers.  Teens who own their own car are more likely to take risks and be involved in crashes than teen who have shared use of a car according to a recent study.

“It might not feel like it, but parents do have some control over their teens’ road safety,” Mr Dangerfield said.

“When our children reach adolescence, we often feel helpless when it comes to keeping them safe – especially on the roads. However, by making sure they are driving a safe vehicle and setting boundaries as to when they can and can’t use the car, we can help protect them.”

The Used Car Safety Ratings teen recommendations form part of a wider commitment the NZTA has made to help young drivers have safer journeys. Parents can access practical advice and free tools to help them stay actively involved in teens’ driving during this critical time. Visit link) for more information.

Some safer pick four or five-star UCSR rated examples for teens could include:

Medium cars

  • Saab 900/9-3 1994 – 2002 from $5,000 - $7,000
  • Honda Accord 1999 – 2002 from $5,000 - $13,000
  • Honda Prelude 1997 – 2002 from $5,000 - $10,000
  • Ford Mondeo 1995 – 2001 from $5,000 - $13,000
  • Subaru Liberty/Lexus/Outback 1999–2003 from $5,000 - $16,000

Small cars

  • Subaru Impreza 2001-07 from $7,000 - $17,000
  • Volkswagen Golf 1995-98 from $5,000 - $9,000
  • Volkswagen Golf/Bora 1999 – 2004 from $5,000 - $22,000
  • Volvo S40/V40 1997 – 2004 from $5,000 - $9,000
  • Peugeot 306 1994 – 2001 from $5,000 - $11,000

Compact 4-wheel drive vehicles

  • Honda CRV 1997 – 2001 from $5,000 - $15,000
  • Subaru Forester 1997 – 2002 from $5,000 - $15,000

Note: prices are based on a survey of prices listed on the Turners car auctions and Trademe websites at the end of August 2012.


Notes to editors:

Monash University Accident Research Centre calculated the Used Car Safety Ratings by analysing over five million vehicles in police-reported road crashes in Australia and New Zealand between 1996 and 2010. The data is reassessed every year as more crash details become available, and the brochure is updated annually.


  1. Michelle, Whelan, Jim Scully and Stuart Newstead (2009), Vehicle Safety and Young Drivers: Stages 2 & 3: Analysis of young driver crash types and vehicle choice optimisation, Monash University Accident Research Centre, Report No.292
  2. Rebecca Brookland and Dorothy Begg (2011). Vehicles driven by young drivers, and features important to parents: New Zealand Drivers Study.  Peer reviewed paper at the Australasian Road Safety Research, Policing and Education Conference, Perth, Australia 6-9 November 2011.  Retrieved from link)
  3. J. Felipe García-España, Kenneth R. Ginsburg, Dennis R. Durbin, Michael R. Elliott and Flaura K. Winston (2009). Primary Access to Vehicles Increases Risky Teen Driving Behaviors and Crashes: National Perspective. Pediatrics; 124; 1069-1075