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Safety should be ‘standard’ on all new cars

19 October 2016

  • Three quarters (77%) of drivers think that more needs to be done to highlight car safety
  • 45% think that cars with any unsafe features should be banned from the roads

More than half of drivers (56%) are calling for safety features, which can be often classed as additional extras, to be fitted as standard on all new vehicles being produced in the UK.

The study by the Co-op Insurance looking into motorists' attitudes to safety has found that three quarters (77%) of drivers are calling on the motor industry to be more proactive when it comes to highlighting both new and used vehicle safety features.

In recent years there have been big advancements in vehicle safety technology, such as Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) which will apply the brakes to a vehicle automatically if, for example, another vehicle stops suddenly in front of it. However, these technologies are often only on certain car models. More than half of drivers (56%) believe that this isn’t fair and are calling on the industry to include basic safety features as standard on all cars produced in future.

These are the things that drivers believe the motor industry should be doing to improve the car buying journey and highlight safety more:

Vehicle safety improvements the motor industry should be making


Percentage of drivers who want this

Safety rating should be included on all documents when buying a car


Safety features need to be as standard on all new cars


Safety statistics should be highlighted as prominently as performance/emissions details


Cars with unsafe features should be banned from the roads


The industry should subsidise safety advancements to make them available to all drivers


A similar document to a homebuyers report should be produced for car buyers


The study has also revealed that whilst 79% of consumers describe car safety as very important when buying a car, 71% don’t place safety in their top five buying criteria, with price, value for money and car brand taking precedence in the buying process. However, over two fifths (45%) of drivers think that cars with any unsafe features should be banned from the roads completely.

Over four fifths (82%) of women, and over two thirds (72%) of men are calling for increased safety education at the point of purchase, with drivers in the north (80%) increasingly keen for this to become common practice in the industry.

Younger drivers, aged 18-24, are really keen (80%) to see a change in how safety features are highlighted when they purchase a car, as are those aged 64-75 (81%).  However the vast majority of motorists (77%) of any age agree that changes need to be made.

What age group wants car safety highlighted more as part of the sales process

Age group

Percentage of drivers who want this

64-75 year olds


18-24 year olds


75+ years


35-44 year olds


45-54 year olds


55-64 year olds


The used car market is changing dramatically as newer models are often made to a higher quality than in decades gone by. Two thirds (66%) of motorists believe that a new car is automatically safer than a used car, however many older cars can often be a safer option. According to Thatcham Research, a driver of a Euro NCAP 5 Star rated car, has a 60% greater likelihood of walking away from a crash compared to someone driving a 1 Star rated car. The study has revealed that over two thirds of drivers (68%) have no idea what the safety rating of their own car is.

Co-op Insurance recently teamed up with Thatcham Research – the UK’s official crash test centre - to devise a formula ranking Britain’s safest affordable used family cars, providing unique insight into choosing the safest car for your family and improving road safety in local communities.

James Hillon, Director of Products at Co-op Insurance said: “The figures speak for themselves, and the majority of drivers in the UK are clearly calling for the industry to do more to highlight safety, and make car safety features more accessible.

“The safety of a vehicle should be a key consideration for everyone involved in the buying and selling process. Cars are ultimately the things that you and your family are transported in every day that can cause devastating issues in communities across the UK should there be a crash.

 “That said, drivers are possibly more interested in the aesthetics of a car when they set foot on the car forecourt and we would urge them to ask questions about the safety of a vehicle and the history of a prospective new car before signing on the dotted line.

“At the Co-op we are keen to help educate people not only about car safety. By knowing more about the safety options that are available, we hope that this will lead to more informed buying decisions and, hopefully, safer choices leading to safer roads.”

Matthew Avery, Director of Research at Thatcham Research said: “As more cars get collision avoidance technologies fitted as standard we are seeing meaningful reductions collisions and injuries. But many manufacturers still offer these technologies as an expensive option, typically £1000 and buyers of new cars would rather spend this on alloy wheels and upgraded stereos –leaving the used car buyer with no choice. We want to see car makers fit safety tech as standard.”

Key safety considerations when purchasing a used car

  1. Check what Euro NCAP safety rating the car has – this gives a guide on the crash-worthiness of the car and its ability to avoid a crash in the first place.  A 5 Star rating is what you should be looking for.
  2. Does it have  AEB (autonomous emergency braking) fitted - AEB is a safety technology first used on production cars in 2008 that monitors the traffic conditions ahead and automatically brakes the car in an emergency situation if the driver fails to respond. It is proven to prevent crashes and is a feature fitted to many widely available used cars.
  3. What additional safety features are available - look for cars that have an additional safety pack that can include technologies like lane keep assist, that actively helps you stay in lane. Active Cruise Control takes the burden of long journeys by keeping you at a safe distance from the car in front, Driver Monitor Systems stop you falling asleep at the wheel and High Beam Assist automatically dip your headlamps.  And for your most valuable passenger, ISOFIX child seats that make buckling and unbuckling them a doddle.


Note to editors 

*Research conducted by ICM Unlimited questioning 2,000 people in June 2016

For more information contact:

Sarah Dawson
Press Officer
07702 506 126

Jenna Moss
Press & Media Relations Manager
0161 767 4354/07770 441828