Three quarters of UK parents believe that highlighting how safe a car is to prospective buyers as part of the sales process should become the law.

The majority of parents (60 percent) say they 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 percent).

The ability to fit a car seat and have ISOFIX mountings (44 percent) is most new parents’ main safety consideration and the reason for a vehicle change, followed by having a bigger vehicle.

“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,” said Nick Ansley, Head of Motor Insurance at Co-op Insurance, which published the research. “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.”

Over two fifths (41 percent) of parents consider driving their baby home from hospital to be the most stressful driving experience of their lives, ahead of their driving test and the journey to their wedding.

Yet, despite the apparent focus on safety, over a third (37 percent) of parents with children under 12 do not recall the safety of vehicles being referenced at all on any car advertising, website ads or on car literature. In terms of how safety should be discussed, 24 percent of parents would like to see a traffic light system (similar to food labelling), 16 percent would prefer a one to 10 rating, 14 percent want cars to be categorised by percentages and 13 percent want to see Euro NCAP ratings displayed on vehicles.

“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,” said Matthew Avery, Director of Research at Thatcham Research. “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 U.S. 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 guide for parents to use when purchasing a new car.