Parents calling for car sales law change

17 July 2018

Baby in car sear

  • 75% of parents* think a car’s safety should be talked about by law as part of the sales process
  • 24% parents want a traffic light display system on cars to rank their safety
  • Co-op Insurance reveals safest used cars for new parent drivers

Three quarters of UK parents believe that highlighting how safe a car is to prospective buyers should be made law.

Research today revealed by Co-op Insurance has found that 75% of UK parents are calling to be better informed and it be the law for a vehicles safety rating to be highlighted as part of the car sales process.

The majority of parents (60%) chose to change their car before their child was born with one of their key reasons being to ensure their vehicle had improved safety features (47%).

The ability to fit a car seat and have ISOFIX mountings (44%) was the main safety consideration and the catalyst for a vehicle change followed by having a bigger vehicle as they feel safer (40%) and more airbags (27%).

Over two fifths (41%) of parents class driving their baby home from hospital as the most stressful driving experience of their lives, ahead of their driving test and the journey to their wedding so safety is high on their agenda.

However despite this focus on safety over a third (37%) of parents of under twelves do not recall the safety of vehicles being referenced at all on any car advertising, from website ads to on car literature.

Over a quarter (27%) don’t remember the car salesperson mentioning safety as part of the sales process at all. Whilst the safety of a vehicle (24%) was down the list when it came to sales patter, with price (31%) and comfort (28%) king.

The majority (80%) of parents believe that car salespeople should be speaking to prospective buyers more about vehicle safety with three quarters (75%) calling for the law change.


There are varying views about how a car’s overall safety should be communicated by a seller.

  • Nearly a quarter of parents (24%) believe that a traffic light system should be used, similar to food labelling
  • 16% prefer a one to 10 rating (unsafe to safest)
  • 14% want cars to be categorised by percentages (unsafe to safest)
  • 13% want Euro NCAP safety ratings to be displayed on vehicles.

One in twenty (6%) parents want cars which have low Euro NCAP safety ratings to be banned from the roads, whilst 3% actively want to see warnings on vehicles which are classed as being less safe.

The findings coincide with the launch of Co-op Insurance’s annual ‘Safe Used Car’ awards which is in its third year and this year highlights the safest cars available in the UK for new parents.

The top Safest Used Car for new parents to purchase in the UK is revealed as being the Mazda CX-5. This is followed by the Volkswagen Touran, BMW 2 series Active Tourer, Nissan Qashqai and the Toyota RAV-4.

Mazda CX-5

The Safe Used cars for parents were selected on criteria developed by Co-op Insurance and Thatcham Research. The vehicles needed to have a 5 Star Euro NCAP star rating, and a specific focus was made on the Euro NCAP child occupant scores that included front and side protection and how easy and safe it is to fit child restraints in the rear seats.

Nick Ansley, Head of Motor Insurance at the Co-op said:

“Parents clearly want to be better informed when it comes to the safety of the vehicles they are buying and driving, especially when they have precious cargo in tow.

“With three quarters of parents calling for a change in the law to ensure car sellers mention safety, this is clearly a major issue that parents across the country want to be addressed.

“Cars cost parents thousands of pounds of hard earned cash and at the Co-op we feel really strongly about buyers receiving the best possible advice before they hand their money over. This is why we launched the Safe Used Car Award, to inform parents about the options available. There is a perception that new cars are safer, which is often not the case.”

Mike Bristow, spokesperson for Brake, the road safety charity said:

“The safety of a vehicle has a fundamental impact on injury prevention in the event of a crash but varies widely from car to car. Parents are crying out for more information but this research from Co-op Insurance highlights that vehicle safety is relegated to an afterthought in the sales process, limiting the opportunities for consumers to choose the safest option.

"Introducing solutions such as a traffic light system and improving the awareness of Euro NCAP ratings will go a long way in informing car buyers about safety, but ultimately it’s down to the dealers and retailers to ensure they are informing and promoting the safety benefits of a vehicle.”

Vikki Butler Henderson, motoring expert, said:

“Driving with children in the car is often incredibly nerve wracking, especially on those first few journeys, and definitely the drive home from hospital. Then as children grow they can be really distracting in the car which is why choosing the safest car possible, within your price range, is so important. Co-op Insurance’s initiative to help new parents choose the safest car they can is really important and should guide new parents on this new journey."

Matthew Avery, Director of Research at Thatcham Research, said:

“More than 90% of cars sold have a Euro NCAP safety rating and this includes how well children are protected in the event of an accident. There is absolutely no reason why this information can’t be made more visible by dealerships, car manufacturers and used car sellers as it is in the US. We hear time and time again from the car industry that car buyers don’t ask about the safety features on cars they’re looking at. This research clearly shows otherwise and should be a wakeup call for the automotive industry.

“Our advice to potential car buyers is do your research, identify what is important to you and what safety features you want. And what is non-negotiable such as whether your child car seats fit, and can be safely secured. If not, then walk away. Child safety is too important to compromise.”

Co-op Insurance has created a handy guide for parents to use when purchasing a new car.

Thatcham Research recommends new parents choose cars with a Euro NCAP 5 Star rating and have Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) fitted, that they check the Euro NCAP Child Occupant rating and understand what car seats can be fitted safely and securely. All this information can be found at


Media Contacts:

Jenna Moss
PR Manager
Mobile: 07770441828

Emily Penkett
PR Manager
Mobile: 07738621201 or follow @coopukinsurance and @coopukpress

Notes to Editors

*Research conducted for Co-op Insurance by Opinion Matters questioning 2,000 drivers with children aged under 12 years old in June 2018.

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