You be the judge: should my mum let me drive her new car after I dented her old one?

The prosecution: Abbie

Everyone make mistakes – even Mum – and she knows I can’t afford my own car and road tax

My mum, Jane, has become really protective over her new car. I am 21 and live at home, and she used to put me on her insurance so I could drive her car, too. I don’t really drive much, it’s just for getting around, and I always pay for the petrol I use. And of course, Mum always has priority when it comes to using it.

But I recently dented her old car, just before she sold it, and now Mum has revoked all driving privileges, which I think is really unfair. I have been driving for a couple of years now and never had any problems with road safety, but when I was parallel parking a few months ago I accidentally reversed into a tree and put a big dent in the rear of the car. Mum said she had to take a hit to the price when she sold it because of that dent.

She was really annoyed, even though I offered to pay for it. She said it was time I got my own car. I protested to my dad (who has his own car for work) but he didn’t want to get involved and said I couldn’t be insured on his as it’s even more valuable.

I feel as if I’m being punished for something that happens to lots of people. My parents are making out that I’m a bad driver, but before the accident they said I was great. And doesn’t everyone make mistakes? I remember Mum telling me she crashed her first car when she was 18, so she’s not perfect.

I don’t have the money to buy a car, let alone pay for road tax and insurance on top, and my parents know this. Mum says that a car isn’t a necessity for me, and for now I should focus on working to save up for one.

We live in London, so having a car isn’t essential. I get the train to work, but I’ve got used to being able to drive at weekends and in my spare time, and now I feel like that has been snatched away. My mum’s new car isn’t that fancy so I don’t know why she doesn’t just put me on the insurance. I have offered to contribute towards the road tax, too.

The defence: Jane

The dent proved that Abbie has some growing up to do. She should save up for her own car

Abbie is responsible enough, but can be careless at times. She doesn’t know the value of things yet and doesn’t always take as much care of things as she should.

I had her insured on my old car for about a year and it was fine for a while, but then she reversed into something and wiped £500 off the value when it was time to sell. I had said to her: “Be careful when you go out, because I’m selling the car soon.” And what did she do? Crashed it.

It was very inconvenient. Yes, that was the only incident, but it proved that Abbie still has some growing up to do. I think it would be best if she bought her own car instead of borrowing mine and asking to be added to my insurance all the time.

My new car is quite nice and I don’t want to take the risk of Abbie reversing into another tree. She can afford to save up for her own as she’s living at home rent-free. I also think she should pay for some refresher driving lessons after her little incident.

We live in London, so if she doesn’t save up for her own then that’s fine too, as a car isn’t really necessary in such a big city. She can take the train or bus, and also ask for a lift from me or her dad.

When I told Abbie she wouldn’t be driving my new car, she kicked off and tried to rope her dad in to defend her – but he agreed with me. He said saving up for her own car would teach her some responsibility and she should wait until she can afford one.

Abbie said that everyone has road accidents, but that’s not true. She brought up the time I crashed my first car when I was 18, but my motto is always “do as I say and not as I do”, so I don’t think it’s relevant.

I was quite annoyed that my old car was dented but I’m over it now. I’m not punishing Abbie like she thinks, but she’s in a very privileged position as she lives at home. Now is the time to encourage her to be more responsible and save up for her own car – if she really wants one.

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The jury of Guardian readers

Should Jane relent and let Abbie take the driver’s seat?

Jane has every right to be annoyed over the dent, but I don’t buy her argument that revoking Abbie’s car privileges isn’t a punishment. Expecting Abbie to buy her own car is unreasonable and surely three cars for one household is extravagant, not to mention environmentally irresponsible.
Naomi, 30

Jane should be able to make her own choices over who can drive her car, and so is not guilty. Abbie: if you dent someone else’s car, get it fixed for them. Then, maybe, they’ll let you drive the next one.
Dani, 33

Abbie made a mistake and it’s Jane’s right to say no, but the best way to get better at driving is practise – I bet Jane learned her lesson after her own crash. Abbie has volunteered to pay towards the insurance, so why is Jane infantilising her?
Alex, 37

To become a truly independent adult, Abby must learn to take financial, ethical, and moral responsibility for her mobility. She could join an (electric) car club for affordable occasional car use.
Pascale, 51

Although the situation may seem harsh to Abbie, a car is not currently essential for her. She could appreciate the fact that she is living rent-free and use this opportunity to save up for her own car. Planning, budgeting and buying are all valuable life skills.
Sheena, 64

Now you be the judge

In our online poll, tell us: is Jane right to put her foot down over this?

The poll closes on Thursday 23 May at 10am BST

Last week’s result

We asked if Monica should ignore her boyfriend Barry’s reservations and get expensive sunglasses, even though she often loses her cheap ones.

35% of you said Monica is guilty – her argument is so see-through

65% of you said Monica is not guilty – Barry is living in the dark ages


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