I don’t need no stinkin’ driver’s license

Why is it that policies that seem utterly obvious and in the public interest to me are … . Well, read below.

I posted this on the Camera’s Jan 28th 2012 LTE blog.

Shnelvar: Why not let the insurance companies determine who can and can’t drive a car and under what conditions?

Heinlein: I think the technical term for that is “insane.”

Why is it that the first reaction to a market solution is deemed insane?

What I was proposing — and am proposing — is that insurance companies determine who gets a license to drive.

We actually have this market system already: If you have no insurance then you can’t drive the car.

If you are under 25, you likely can’t rent a car. No law says you can’t. It’s just that the car rental companies won’t rent to a high-risk group even if they have a state-approved license.

So let’s see what really happens in our world.

Parents send their kids to a state-approved 30-hour driving school course. (Did you know that a 14.5 year-old can actually take a correspondence course to get a permit?)

So a 14.5 year old, under the law, can get a permit. This means, of course, that some 14.5 year old kid is in control of a couple of tons of steel barreling down the highway while some adult is sitting next to them. I don’t mind this. The system seems to work.

In America we accept this risk of a 14.5 year old driving and we allow a 16-year-old to get a license and drive alone. Many parts of the world think we’re nuts as the minimum age for a driver’s license is 18.

So we take this hypothetical 16-year-old and drive them to the DMV and they get a 15-minute road test after passing a written test that is, mostly, irrelevant to safe driving. We all know what’s important and it sure ain’t on that quickly-forgotten written test.

Somehow, the waving of the magic wand by the state inspector allows us to ask an insurance company to insure our kid. If the child is male, the insurance will be “outrageous” because the insurer knows that young males as a group drive more recklessly than women of the same age. Perhaps we need to pass laws on the heinous kind of sex discrimination? Hell no! I’ve got two daughters.

So I ask the Gentle Reader, what is the purpose of that state inspector? The real filter on driving are the insurance companies. Why not let them decide who drives and who doesn’t?

“In order to help young drivers keep insurance affordable, some companies offer special training courses which, upon completion, result in lower rates for young drivers.” (http://www.directautoinsurance.com/why-are-young-drivers-so-expensive-to-insure/ ). Does this have anything to do with state regulations? No.

Would an insurer insure an eleven-year-old? I don’t know. But I wonder what a jury might say if that eleven-year-old injured someone. Would we scream about age discrimination of an insurer refused to cover an eleven-year-old?

So let’s get rid of that state inspector and state driving license exam (and save the taxpayer some hassle and a few bucks in the process) and pass that responsibility to the insurers. It’s their cash on the line if the driver does something wrong.

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