What’s in a name? Who can you trust? What’s for lunch? At least two of these questions are partially answered by the latest stats-based revelation trumpeted by pachyderm-fronted car insurance outlet Elephant.co.uk.

Britain’s most accident-prone couple have LAUREN and LUKE spelled out in vinyl capitals across the upper portion of their windscreen. Those with the most uneventful driving histories – and doubtless the most uneventful lives in general – go by the names of Douglas and Margaret but mark their territory more subtly with a parcel-shelf panama and a neatly folded lap rug on the rear seat.

Elephant reveal that girls with names like Danielle, Leanne and Natalie make more motor claims, while the likes of Ann, Anne, Lesley and Wendy claim the least. For boys the tearaways are Bens, Sams, Dans and Joes – with Raymond, Gordon and Trevor almost guaranteed to play it safe.

Elephant claim to have analysed more than half a million motor insurance claims over a two-year period to arrive at these conclusions.

Spokesman Brian Martin (sounds like a decent risk to us) insists “Our research is just a bit of fun, but the safest names definitely appear to be linked to the older generation – compared with the least-safe names being more common to the younger generation.”

In France, meanwhile, controversy rages over the naming of the latest proposed addition to the Renault range. The Times reports that petitions have been started by outraged parents of the many jeunes filles recently christened Zoé.

“Our daughters have a beautiful first name that must not be associated with a car, so let us unite to bring pressure on a multinational which is going to destroy this pretty name for our children,” blusters petition lynchpin Sébastien Mortreux. “It is a scandal that they are able to use common first names for products,” he said.

Renault spokesman Valerian David claims no offence was intended. Zoe, he says, “is a name that evokes values of femininity, of youth, a playful spirit and vivacity,” said, a spokesman.” More prosaically, the name refers to “the concept of zero emissions” towards which Renault’s electric vehicle vaguely nods.

Previous girl-named models from Renault do not appear to have elicited similar outrage. Clios and Méganes slipped quietly into production with scarcely a ripple. In the UK, indeed, the latter name, transmogrified into the less sibilant phonetic equivalent of the surname of the celebrated scouse actor siblings and re-spelled like the Welsh name Megan has lately climbed to number 17 in the most-popular-UK-girls-name charts and is oft heard bawled out on the street.

Bankstone News has its own car-christian-name problems to wrestle with. Given the growing popularity of  the imported Mazda van of that name (see illustration), christening our first-born Bongo Friendee no longer seems like such a great decision.


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