Last week, we devoted our cover and cover story to the concept that our kids are killing themselves at an alarming rate behind the wheels of motor vehicles which they have simply never been taught to drive.
Would you like to blame someone?
Look in the mirror.
The blame starts with you and me.
During last year’s legislative session in Carson City, when our elected representatives took an entire legislative session to decide how to give us back about a third of what they stole from us in 2003, the lobbyist from State Farm Insurance tried to get a bill passed mandating behind the wheel drivers’ education be taught in our public school system.
The bill got nowhere.
Guess who lobbied against it?
The Clark County School District.
The "concern", of course, was money. Might not have enough left over to teach kids who are about to kill themselves behind the wheel of a car they have never been taught to drive other, more important, subjects.
So why are we to blame?
We let it happen. On our watch.
If that weren’t enough, it would appear that there’s no real economic disincentive for kids who are ignorant of how to drive a motor vehicle to actually get behind the wheel. If you happen to be insured by one of the large, multi-line insurers who dominate this state’s auto and homeowner’s market, such a kid’s parents may have to pay about a $2,000 a year surcharge. That may sound high, but this is a city where a $300,000 house is considered inexpensive. And there are steep discounts if a child driver actually does take behind the wheel drivers’ education.
But statistics indicate that those rates may not be set based on the actual cost to insure such a child. They may be set not to irritate the parents, too much.
Those anecdotal statistics come from a company which only writes auto insurance in Nevada and bases its rates solely on actuarial tables based on the same numbers at which every other insurer looks. But it cannot afford to lose money on the policies it writes. So, its number is more like $5,500 a year.
Now here’s a question to ponder. What do you think the state legislature might do if all of the insurance companies actually charged parents what it really costs to insure child-drivers without adequate training?
Oh, at first, they’d blame the insurance industry. Nobody ever went broke beating up the insurance industry.
But sooner or later, the truth would surface and they would swallow the pill and mandate behind the wheel drivers’ education be taught.
So, given these facts, why are we still to blame?
Because we all want teens not to kill themselves or us on the highway but we don’t seem to be willing to do much about it.
If, say, 100 really mad parents showed up at every school board meeting and very loudly let the school board and the administration who lobby against bills mandating drivers’ education know that they are not amused, the lobbying might stop.
If the state’s insurers are convinced by those same parents that forcing the issue in Carson City is the right thing to do, their lobbyists might get a fair hearing by what passes for leadership in this state.
And, ultimately, kids may get taught to drive and the carnage will subside.
Of course, maybe things are just fine and we shouldn’t do anything.
Look in the mirror and say that real slowly.