The £12,000 cost of learning to drive
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) reckons it costs £12,000 for a teenage learner to put a car on the road – and that's before he or she has even driven the thing.
Obviously that amount is a lot of dough to most people, but given that the average salary for a 17-year-old is around £9,300 per year (2009 figure), it's even more unsettling. That's usually where the parents come in.
The staggering cost takes into account the average cost of lessons, the driving test itself, insurance, tax and MOT. And, of course, a car.
Most interesting about the cost breakdown is the difference between the price of the car and the cost of insuring it: almost £5,000.
And no, that's not a car worth £5,000 more than the price of insurance – it's the other way around. The IAM, using a "popular price comparison website", quotes a £7,900 annual premium for a 17-year-old male driving a £3,000 Kia Picanto.
At the moment girls get off relatively lightly when it comes to insurance premiums, on the basis that young men are a greater risk on the road.
However, legislation due in 2012 will make it illegal for insurance companies to 'discriminate' in this way, meaning premiums for girls will rise significantly.
IAM chief executive Simon Best thinks that extortionate premiums are counter-productive to safety, because they mean young drivers simply cannot afford newer and better cars. "It also affects their chances of getting a job, especially in rural areas where a car is essential to get to work," he says.
The IAM advocates pre-driving training for 14 to 16-year-olds, as well as post-test training for new drivers. In Austria, the latter has been shown to lower the death rate among young drivers by almost one third.