The words, "Mom, I just got my driver's license" might as well be synonymous with, "Mom, you're about to see your car insurance rates go so high we'll be eating 99 cent pasta from here until eternity." But the story of Trevor Bayne, Daytona 500 winner just one day after his 20th birthday, is good news for teen drivers and parents both.
On Saturday, Bayne was still a teen driver. On Sunday, he skillfully managed one of the biggest challenges in car racing and won. Get that, oh car insurance underwriters? The youngest Daytona 500 winner just proved teenagers can do some seriously amazing driving. Can we get a discount, pretty please?
The way it's calculated, car insurance rates are traditionally highest for young and/or new drivers. Older, more experience drivers, will see their premiums jacked up as punishment for accidents -- because they're now a known risk.
Insuring teens is a catch 22. They are a risk because they're new to the game, and yet they generally haven't done anything wrong to deserve the higher rates. The folks who calculate the rates don't do a ride-along with your teen to determine whether they're the straight arrow type or the kid who texts, speeds and spends more time with her eyes in the mirror than on the road in front of her. So parents have to debate what's more important: getting their kids mobile so they can attend extra-curriculars to boost their college applications and drive to jobs to help pay for college . . . or save money by keeping the kids off the road. It's not an easy decision, especially for parents who know their kids are responsible enough to get behind the wheel.
But what Bayne just proved is that kids can be better drivers than adults. It may seem odd to hold him up as an example. After all, parents' main fear is that their kids will go fast, and that's what powered Bayne around the track and into victory lane.
For all the flack NASCAR gets -- I'm not a fan, and I confess to the "they make left turns all day" jokes -- it takes pure talent to drive 500 miles around a banked track, navigating around 42 other cars, all at speeds well above 100 miles per hour. It's hard to drive fast and drive fast well. And Trevor Bayne not only managed it all, but did so with a qualifying time far better than people like 52-year-old Mark Martin and 36-year-old Dale Earnhardt Jr. (who grew up in the sport).
I've always appreciated the NASCAR drivers who pick a favorite cause to champion. If I may suggest one to Bayne, it should be using his "youngest Daytona winner" status to encourage safe drive practices among youth. . . and helping responsible kids get a little respect.
Do you think this young man's accomplishment can speak to that of other kids out there?
Image via Getty Images/Matthew Stockman/Staff