In traditional aborigine society as a boy approached puberty the elders of the tribe would lead him out into the bush at night and scare the bejeezus out of him with bullroarers. The terror their unearthly sound inspired was a crucial part of the intentionally traumatic transition from boy to man.

Here in the UK, the equivalent rite of passage involves young men buying mechanically suspect turbo-charged superannuated superminis and being scared shiftless by the cost of insurance.

Alcoholics Anonymous this week unveiled some fascinating insights into the seminal sociological phenomenon that is acquiring your first car. Among their key findings were: boys get their first motor younger than girls; girls are far less likely to pay for theirs themselves; first cars are typically between seven and ten years old, and usually cost under two grand.

Simon Douglas, director of AA Car Insurance is that rare beast a company spokesperson quoted at length in Bankstone News without so much as a hint of misconstrual, traduction or idle derision. “At a time when the cost of car ownership is higher than ever,” he says, “with both fuel and insurance costs rising steeply, getting a car remains a priority – especially for young men.

“Unfortunately, one out of every five will also experience a serious accident within their first year of driving. Young men are twice as likely to be killed or seriously injured in a collision than young women and although the number of accidents on Britain’s roads is thankfully falling, the proportion suffered by young drivers is rising.

“Most young drivers expect their first year’s car insurance premium to be expensive, but it still comes as a shock when the cost might be twice what their first car is worth. The cars they are buying tend to be more powerful than they used to be. This contributes to higher accident rates and thus higher premiums.”

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