The Mazda 2 is a great choice. It has always been towards the front of the small hatchbacks when it comes to safety and is definitely one of the better littlies to actually drive, too.
Mazda facelifted the 2 in 2017 and took the opportunity to add blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert to the vehicle at that point in time. The catch is that the safety tech was only standard on the more expensive models and both the Neo and Maxx versions missed out. You could option that package when you ordered a Neo or Maxx, but it cost extra, and some people didn’t see the value in it.
So, if you’re shopping for a second-hand Mazda 2 Neo or Maxx, make sure you check carefully that the options you want are fitted. If you’re buying brand-new, no problem, because the most recent upgrade to the 2 saw rear-cross traffic alert and blind-sport monitoring become standard across the range. Lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist also became standard at that time. Significantly, autonomous emergency braking was standard on all Mazda 2s built after the 2017 facelift, making the car a very safe package.
As for alternatives, the world is your oyster with $30,000 in your pocket. There are lots of really good, safe cars out there in that price bracket, but, again, the Mazda 2 should definitely be on your short-list.