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The cheapest and safest runaround cars for your kids

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
When it comes to getting a set of wheels for your kids, you want their first car to be safe and affordable. Here are the top five used cars to get your offspring on the road.

Three quarters of young drivers aged 17-24 own a second-hand car but despite this, safety isn’t a priority when buying.

In fact, just 31% of young drivers say they consider safety when choosing a vehicle and just 11% ask questions about the safety of the motor when making a purchase.

Young drivers are more likely to look at a car based on its price (75%), cost of insurance (63%), that it’s cheap to run (43%) and the age of the vehicle (39%).

Of the 1,000 young drivers surveyed, two fifths (41%) had been involved in a car accident when driving, according to research by Co-op Insurance and almost a third of those said the accident happened in the first six months of passing their test. 15% reported an accident within the first six and 12 months of getting on the open road.

As part of Co-ops Top 5 Safest Used First Cars launch, in partnership with Thatcham Research, cars had to be in the Supermini category, CO2 emissions of 120g/km or less, available to purchase on the second-hand market for £5,000 or less, and to have a low insurance group rating score.

Here are the run around cars under £5,000 which have been ranked as the best:

  • Skoda Citigo
  • VW Up!
  • Seat Mii
  • Toyota Yaris
  • Kia Rio

The safety measures you should check

Over half (54%) didn’t know what accredited vehicle safety rating (EuroNCAP) their car has and when asked, a quarter didn’t know this rating even existed.

When tested on key inbuilt car safety devices, 75% of young drivers didn’t know what AEB (Autonomous Electronic Braking) stood for and a further 74% had no idea what ESC (Electronic Stability Control) was.

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research explained more on the safety functions:

“AEB and ESC 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 and works 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. Avery added that AEB is reducing rear-to-front crashes by about 40% and ESC is reducing fatalities from single vehicle crashes by 25%.”

He added: “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.”

‘You cannot put a price on safety’

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.

“While 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.”

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