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Buying a first car for your son or daughter? RAY MASSEY rounds up the safest used motors for young drivers

Getting hold of your first car is a rite of passage for millions of young people — and for parents whose deeper pockets help.

That first set of wheels spells freedom and independence. But the vehicle itself will most likely be an older second-hand car that has seen better days, bought on a tight budget.

Young drivers — even with the help of parents — too often put price before safety and unwittingly buy old bangers.

Impressed: TV motoring experts Quentin Willson and Lois McClure with the Skoda Citigo

Indeed, price, the cost of insurance and whether a car is cheap to run are the top three selling points when buying a first car — way ahead of any safety considerations.

However, road safety and crash-test experts are warning: ‘Do not buy the oldest or cheapest car you can find.’

It is vital as younger drivers are most likely to have an accident in the first few months and years after passing their test.

Co-op Insurance announced its used car safety awards, presented by TV motoring expert Quentin Willson, this week, following tests carried out with Thatcham Research.

Volkswagen’s cheap and cheerful ‘up’ model was in second place. The Co-op Insurance report concluded that too often ‘price trumps safety’ when young drivers buy their first car The Seat Mii comes is the third safest second hand car available for under £5,000 according to the Co-op survey

The Co-op has listed the top five safest ‘first used cars’ on the market for under £5,000 aimed at drivers from their late teens to mid-20s.

Skoda’s Citigo comes top, followed by the Volkswagen up!, Seat Mii, Toyota Yaris and Kia Rio.

For those with a bigger budget, the top ten safest second-hand cars under £15,000 are led by the Volvo V40 (with safety pack, including extra airbags and speed limiter), Mazda3, Toyota Auris, VW Golf Sportsvan, and the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer.

The others are the VW Touran and Golf, Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 308, and Volvo V40 (standard).

The Co-op Insurance report concluded that too often ‘price trumps safety’ when young drivers buy their first car.

More than three quarters (76 per cent) of drivers aged 17 to 24 own a second-hand car, yet only one in ten (11 per cent) asked questions about safety when choosing it.

Leader: Volvo’s V40 (with safety pack, including extra airbags and speed limiter) is the safest second-hand cars under £15,000

Three quarters consider price the main factor — compared with less than a third (31 per cent) whose main concern is safety.

Experts say young buyers and parents should seek used cars fitted as standard with life-saving Electronic Stability Control (ESC), which can reduce fatalities by up to 40 per cent, and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), which can reduce crashes by a quarter.

New driver Lois McClure, a 23-year-old office worker from Wigan, who attended the awards said: ‘Getting your first car is an exciting time. But I know how important it is to have a safe car.’

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