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Cheap cars 'risk for new drivers'

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Newly-qualified drivers are putting their lives at risk by buying cheap cars and not having basic safety checks carried out, an insurer has warned.

Norwich Union said its research reveals that more than half (52%) of drivers under the age of 21 spend less than £500 on their first car and 40% of first time buyers do not have any checks on their car until the MOT is due.

The firm said data shows motorists are twice as likely to be injured in an accident while driving a 10-year-old car than a new vehicle, with the probability of injury increasing the older the car is.

The research reveals that 35% of parents help their children financially to purchase their first car, although few get it properly inspected.

One third of parents said they checked the car themselves and 34% did nothing. Less than one in 10 paid for new safety-related parts and 17% paid for a professional inspection.

Nigel Bartram, underwriting strategy manager, said parents should help young drivers to purchase a safe, roadworthy vehicle.

He said: "From as little as £125, parents and young motorists can have peace of mind that the car is roadworthy and safe to drive with a vehicle inspection."

© Press Association 2008