Student driver? Make a safe investment, says IAM

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When choosing your student car, it pays to remember safety features as well as eye-catching gadgets and add-ons, says Irish Advanced Motorists (IAM)

For young people choosing a car to take away to college style, design and stereo are often decisive factors. Safety and reliability are not always taken into account.

Mike Kavanagh, IAM director says: “Cost is a key issue, but opting for the cheapest vehicle can mean cutting safety corners and paying more to run it – newer cars tend to have better safety features and are usually more economic too.”

IAM advice is to buy the best car you can afford and to make features such as anti-lock braking [ABS] a priority. ABS has saved lives; it has been a standard fitting on cars for many years and should be widely available on the used car market. Electronic stability control [ESC] is another life saver and, while not as widely available on used cars, is well worth seeking out.

“In many cases and due to the current state of the car market, a 5 year old car with ABS can be had for €5,000. You may even have budget left over to spend on modifying it to your own spec, but at the end of the day, safety is priceless” added Mike.

And parents who are helping to pay for the car should consider insisting on function over style, for example by looking for a car with EuroNCAP’s 4 or 5-Star rating for crash protection.

But a great car is no substitute for a good driving. IAM research reveals that young drivers are at greatest risk of crashing or being injured.

Mike adds: “You could think of the driving test as an end of year exam: an important hurdle, but by no means the end of the process. Driving is a skill for life. Investing little more than the cost of an iPod in further training for a son or daughter should result in a more confident, thoughtful and safer driver – and might even repay the outlay in reduced insurance premiums.”