The War on Teen Drivers

Did you know the average cost of car insurance for a 16-year-old is almost $3,000 annually? This assumes no tickets, no accidents and a good scholastic record. Yes, they actually check the kid’s grades and use that as a metric for determining his “risk profile,” just as adult drivers are dunned by the insurance mafia if their credit score isn’t top-shelf, regardless of their driving record.

So, a $250 per month cost-of-entry before the car even leaves the driveway. Before the kid puts gas in the thing.

Before the kid even has a car to put gas into.

How is he supposed to get a car — or afford gas — when he is obliged to pony up $250 each month to the insurance mafia?

Most adults with full-time jobs would have serious troubling dealing with a $250/month nut for insurance.

How is a teenage kid working a minimum wage/part-time gig supposed to deal with it?

Faced with this extortion — and that’s exactly the right word; there’s no choice about paying the $250 per month, if the kid wants to drive legally — many simply opt out.

A record-high percentage of 16-25-year-olds haven’t even got a driver’s license and forget the car. They stay home instead, game and text. When they need to get somewhere, they ride share or Uber or something that doesn’t require them to spend a minimum of 20-25 hours working at minimum wage (currently $7.25 per hour) gig hauling pizzas or some such just to tithe the mafia.

More and more of them just don’t care about cars — or driving.

Mission accomplished.

One way to get people out of cars — an agenda that has existed since at least the early ’70s in furtive “urban planning” circles but which has become aggressively obvious in recent years — is to make sure they never get into them. And the easiest way to do that is to make driving prohibitively and unavoidably expensive for new drivers especially. If they never learn to drive, they’ll never miss not driving. (See my article on the Proletarianization of Transportation for more on this.)

A kid doesn’t have to buy a new car or even a $3,000 used car. He can buy any car that rolls under its own power or even not — to be fixed up and made capable of rolling as the kid’s means permit.

This latter being part of the bonding experience with cars generations of teen drivers experienced growing up.

One of my high school buddies owned a palsied chocolate brown ’77 Datsun B210 with no reverse. Well, it had a reverse. Said so, right there on the shifter. It just didn’t work. When it was time to back out of the 7-11 parking lot, we’d simultaneously open the doors and push the car back with our feet, Fred Flintstone-style.

That car — in which we had numerous adventures — cost my friend less than $300 and the insurance was nowhere near $3,000.

Which is why my friend — all my friends — had a car, however decrepit. And were able to drive them. On our own part-time/minimum-wage nickel.

This was the 1980s. Everyone drove as soon as they legally could and some before then. We champed at the bit to get our driver’s licenses; it was a major life event, a clear sign of almost-adulthood. We became independent, no longer tethered to home and mom and dad.

No one who wasn’t in a wheelchair didn’t have a driver’s license. The big nut for us was getting the car to go with it. Which we managed because the car was the main expense and we had the freedom to buy what we could afford.

But $3,000 for coverage renders the car a moot point.

It requires almost full-time work to afford that and the car plus the gas and not many 16-year-olds are working full time because they can’t. The law requires them to be in school full time, whether they’d prefer to be working being as irrelevant as my desire to keep what I earn rather than have half of it stolen from me by the multi-tiered thievery that styles itself “taxation.”

Usurious insurance cuts the connection between young man (and young woman) and machine before one is ever established. You cannot love what you never knew.

And tithing the mafia is all-but-unavoidable today. There is no way out for the current crop of teen would-be-drivers.

It’s not like it was back in the pre-police state days, when you could — as it is styled — “get away” with driving without tithing, if the cost was too usurious. There weren’t automated license plate readers back in the ’80s — or even the early 2000s — and the mafia didn’t have instant access to your DMV records and wasn’t IV connected to the DMV, able to narc you out to the DMV the instant they noticed your “coverage” had lapsed or simply been cancelled.

This was also the pre-checkpoint era, too. No “papers, please” pit stops.

Provided you didn’t cause a problem there was no problem.

Imagine that.

Today, the chances of being sussed out as a mafia scofflaw are much higher — and the consequences as or even more severe than they would be if you actually did cause a problem.

You might as well drive drunk on the sidewalk; the end result is more or less the same — in terms of what the government will do to you if you’re caught driving without tithing. And for the parents, too. A teen being a legal minor, it is parents who will be dragooned in for the rubber hose treatment if their young son or daughter is caught driving sans tithing.

Effectively, the parents are thus dragooned into being the mafia’s agents — ensuring compliance. And since the kids can’t afford the $3k nut — and most parents can’t, either — the kid doesn’t merely give up driving, he never bothers with it at all.

This is the beauty of the thing — from the standpoint of both the insurance mafia (which can enforce policy premiums that are worse than gangster loan shark interest rates because the gangster doesn’t force you to take out the loan, doesn’t punish you for not borrowing money) and the get-them-out-of-cars-early “urban planner” crowd.

Money — and power. Not necessarily in that order, but the same things, at the end of the day.

The adults go slowly broke trying to keep alive their love of cars and of driving — while their kids never even get to first base, so to speak. They learn to love dependence — or at least, they get used to it.

Because it’s all they’ve ever known.


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Leave a Comment

5 Responses to “The War on Teen Drivers”

  1. tzx4 says:

    Comment? Yup.

    “my desire to keep what I earn rather than have half of it stolen from me by the multi-tiered thievery that styles itself “taxation.”

    Just some counterpoints.

    Name one nation out there that is an advanced industrial nation with a high standard of living that does not have “big government”? Big Governments and big middle classes go hand in hand, it would seem. That money is not stolen, we do still have some semblance of taxation with representation. I certainly would hope that you might at least recognize that the most recent “tax cut” goes to people and organizations that are at the top of the economic pyramid, and that same tax cut is blowing a 1.5 trillion hole in the deficit. Personally I take home eight whole dollars a month more as a result of that tax cut. And now the GOP talks about taking down social security and medicare to balance that 1.5 trillion difference. How is that not direct theft from the common working people who have paid into those programs all their lives and giving it directly to the billionaires?

    Thanks for reading.

  2. A Grant says:

    The average cost to insure a teen driver is $2,150 a year, not $3,000 ( Still too much you say? Not when compared to the national average for all drivers, which is around $1,700 per year. So effectively, insurance for a teen driver is $450 more annually than your average driver. This price difference, as I am sure you are well aware is based on a number of factors:

    – Lack of driving history;
    – Higher risk (according to the CDC, teenagers crash their cars and receive motor vehicle violations as a rate four times higher than drivers of other age groups); and
    – Lack of a credit history (demonstrates financial responsibility).

    I’m not entirely clear what your solution is either. One could assume that it’s one of three things. Either have federal/state governments mandate the maximum amount an insurance company can charge a teenager (but this would constitute significant government interference in the operations of a private enterprise, something this site seems to abhor). Or update the requirements to earn a licence – such as a prolonged graduated learners permit system and more difficult testing requirements – which would increase the skills/expertise of teen drivers, making them less of a risk. Or remove the insurance mandate on teen drivers. Which would leave our roads filled with new drivers without any actual assets to be recovered should they get into a crash involving serious damages, injuries, or death.

    Look on the bright side though – fewer teens interested in driving (for whatever reason), means fewer drivers on the road, which means less congestion.

  3. Bennett Shane says:

    Nobody is forcing teenagers to drive, and more and more of them are realizing they don’t need a car to be happy, which is good. Relying on a car to move around is not a cost-effective way to live, but that’s not only about insurance cost, it’s also about gas cost, maintenance cost, and the time spent driving around, which could be better spent doing other things. Also, there’s the long term increase in the cost in health care from sitting in a car for a large portion of one’s life. You sound like a dinosaur when you talk about “man’s connection to machine” and you put (and young women) in parentheses. You’re just fighting a tide that isn’t even worth fighting, in 20 years car ownership as we know it today will be gone, and good riddance.

  4. Dan says:

    “No one who wasn’t in a wheelchair didn’t have a driver’s license.”

    And those who weren’t forced to deal with the difficulty of being disabled and with full ability to use their body to move around instead chose not to, and instead rode around in their own internal-combustion-engine-powered wheelchairs and created an environment in which everyone else was unable to get around without fearing death and disability.