Safety concerns not critical for young drivers

Safety is not a major concern for young drivers, despite nearly a third of motorists aged 17-24 being involved in an accident when they were the driver in the six months after passing their tests.

A study by Co-op Insurance also found that three quarters (76%) of young drivers aged 17-24 own a second hand car, yet despite this, just a tenth (11%) ask questions about safety when choosing their first car.

Highlighting a willingness to compromise on safety, 75% said price was the most important factor in buying a new car, 63% said running costs and 43% said insurance.

The age of the vehicle (39%) and colour (31%) also mattered more than safety features. Perhaps surprisingly, eco-friendliness was only cited by 11% of new drivers as a key concern.

The study is published as Co-op Insurance, in partnership with Thatcham Research, launches the Top Five Safest Used First Cars for young drivers.

It ranked Skoda Citigo as number one, ahead of VW Up!, Seat Mii, Toyota Yaris and Kia Rio.

James Hillon, director of products at Co-op Insurance said, ‘The fact that almost a third of young drivers have been involved in a road traffic incident in the first six months of driving highlights just how important it is to have a safe vehicle. The research gives us real insight into what young people are looking for when it comes to choosing their first car and it’s concerning to find that so few prioritise safety.

‘Whilst we recognise that cost is an important factor for many, you cannot put a price on safety. We want to intercept and engage young drivers on the importance of putting safety over price when purchasing a first car.  Later this year we’ll be hosting a road safety live stream to engage hundreds of 17-24 year-olds on the important of safety, when choosing a first car.’

Matthew Avery, director of research, Thatcham Research, added, ‘Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) are second only to the seatbelt in terms of being life savers. They are critical in preventing the most common crashes that young drivers have.

‘ESC works by preventing the vehicle going into a skid and possibly hitting a tree by automatically braking one wheel momentarily to steer the car back into line.

‘AEB uses lasers, radars or cameras to sense if a collision might occur and warns the driver to brake. If the driver doesn’t react, the car will automatically brake to prevent or mitigate the collision. AEB is reducing rear-to-front crashes by about 40% and ESC is reducing fatalities from single vehicle crashes by 25%.

‘My advice to parents buying their child a first used car: do not buy the oldest or cheapest car you can find. There are plenty of good deals out there for newer second-hand cars that have a five-star Euro NCAP test rating and are fitted with ESC and AEB as standard.’