There are so many safety factors to consider when your teenager begins driving. When it comes to teen brain development, distracted driving, and graduated license laws, parents have a strong role in assuring that their children stay safe behind the wheel. Great safety strategies include educating your teen about the dangers of distracted driving, and creating a teen-parent safe driving contract that rewards safe driving behavior. But there’s one aspect for new teen drivers that parents have complete control over: what car (if any) they will drive.

There are a lot of no brainers here. It’s not advisable, for example, to buy your newly-licensed teenager a brand new Lamborghini or Corvette. I mean, why tempt them? You also probably want to avoid clunky SUVs or massive Hummers, which are often difficult to handle and can cost a fortune when it comes to gas bills. But aside from these considerations, there are so many factors to weigh, and it can help to have car and safety experts to parse the details.

That’s why we’re thankful for Consumer Reports, which last week released a list and video of used-cars that are safe and reliable for teen drivers. Finding a safe car, they write, is especially important considering that car crashes are the number one killer of young people in the United States. Between the ages of 15 and 19 there were 3,000 car accident deaths and 350,000 car-related emergency room visits in 2009 alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teenagers are four times more likely to crash than any other demographic.

Some more pointers include avoiding vehicles that can seat five or more people “because who needs a whole pack of teens all in one car? That’s just asking for trouble.” And although SUVs appear safer, they can actually be difficult to handle, and their high center of gravity can be prone to rollovers. These considerations in mind, Consumer Reports suggested 8 safe models for teenagers, which each cost below $12,000. Here’s the list:

Visit Consumer Reports for more information on safe cars for teenagers, and how to decide which factors are the most important (hint: safety). And check out our parents and teen safety page for additional information on how to keep your teenager safe behind the wheel.

Photo credit: beardenb