Driven into debt

Can we ever relax when our kids are behind the wheel?

Wasn’t it lovely to see some good news in the mass ofinancial horror all over the papers this week? So congratulations to Dave and Angie Dawes on their £101M lottery win and good luck to them in turning their friends and family into millionaires. It’s such a shame that her former husband and teenage son feel left out in the cold, though I can’t help but feel their chances of joining the family millionaire’s club might have been increased had they kept schtum. For the rest of us, it seems, it’s business as usual, more glum statistics about pension funds being stripped of their value practically overnight and the worst employment figures since the 1970s to look forward to. One piece of ostensibly bad news which I find, not exactly cheering, but perversely comforting, is that insurance rates for newly qualified drivers has gone off the scale. If you are the parent of a 17-20 year old boy you could be paying (and let’s face it – unless he’s the next Jason Button, he won’t be) more than £4000 a year for his car insurance. And that’s before you add on the cost of the petrol the car and the weekly valet when some over refreshed teenager inevitably throws up in the back. (A friend of a friend’s son once threw up in the back of Jonathan Ross’s car when he gallantly showed up to collect his teenage daughter from a party. Mr Ross was very decent about it apparently…but I digress). And that is why, if I’m honest, I am quite happy to see teenagers priced out of driving. Living in London it’s not such a burning issue for us, but I know families living in the boonies whose children are hotching for their first car from the moment they hit 17. And I know for many it is a lifeline and practically the only way to get out and about. But it is also a potential death trap. I know so many parents who spend Friday and Saturday nights either driving round the countryside like a demented Jeremy Clarkson picking up and dropping off their teenagers, or else spend the night in an agony of anxiety as they wonder whether it will be their child’s picture in the local paper that week after they, or one of their friends wraps a car round a tree on the way home. So, I’ve done a bit of maths – let’s take that £4000 insurance figure and convert it into cab fares. Working on the theory that our newby driver plans to go out every Friday and Saturday night for a year he could spend a whopping £38.46 on cabs every Friday and Saturday night which should be enough for him to escort his friends around as well and still have enough left to bring back a bag of chips. And that’s without factoring in the cost of tax, petrol or even the car. Add it all up and they could be driven to work like Alan Sugar every day. Now that to me, sounds like a deal – what do you think? How much money do you spend on your teenager’s car and how much time do you spend sitting up at night worrying about him or her? Let me know, and let me know whether you think this taxi idea is a runner before my 18 year old starts dropping hints about a Mini.