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HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- One by one, the kids in Jordan's Driving School at North Mecklenburg High School shuffle out of their parents' cars and move into the classroom. They're learning the ropes of the road, but also on their minds: exactly what they want to drive.

"I hope for a car with red stripes that looks fast," laughed Matthew Worgan.

All joking aside, soon Worgan and the rest of the students in the class, will be on the road. But alarming new research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety finds many teens aren't driving safe cars.

The group routinely rates new cars, but has never looked at used vehicles. Until now. It's welcomed research because 8 out of 10 parents will buy their kids a used car.

"Something fairly safe and not very expensive," says mom Meredith Ross of the car she'll eventually buy her daughter.

What to look for?

The IIHS says stay away from powerful engines and cars with lots of horsepower. The group also recommends bigger, heavier cars. There are no mini or small cars on the group's list. Also, it recommends parents buy a car with ESC, Electronic Stability Control.

ESC detects and prevents skidding and may help your teenager avoid a dangerous accident. Finally IIHS recommends parents buy a used car with the best safety ratings possible.

The group ranked cars in the $10,000 and less category and over $20,000 as well.

Dad Isiah Corpening says it's advice worth following.

"Yes, this is our biggest worry so far in life," he says, chuckling but still honest!

If you'd like to see the complete list of cars the IIHS recommends, click here.

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