LatinaLista -- With gas prices hovering around $4 a gallon, it's an understatement to say that people, especially families, are viewing their driving habits differently these days. Yet no matter how bad the economy, a new survey sponsored by Nationwide Insurance shows parents are still willing to make sacrifices just so their teens can get behind the wheel.
In the survey, Economic Impact on Teen Driving: A Study Among Parents of 15-19 Year Olds, it was found that families in Texas face significantly higher costs in keeping their teen drivers compliant with insurance, safety and other driving expenses.
That's not good news for any family but especially Latino families who comprise 37 percent of the state's population and constitute a large share of middle to low-income.
Yet even with costs high in Texas, and national economic pressures, Latino parents on average are more apt to foot the bill for their child's driving expenses.
Forty percent of parents overall pay for all of their child's driving expenses -- but the percentage among Latino parents is higher.
The survey reveals that 46 percent of Latino parents pay for all of their child's driving expenses which includes gas and insurance coverage but those costs are higher than what are paid by other families.
The survey reports that the average driving costs for Latino teen drivers stands at $3,215 versus $3,066 for non-Hispanic teen drivers. (Editor's Note: At the time of the posting, Latina Lista called Nations Insurance for an explanation of the discrepancy and it has been referred to the analysts who put the survey together.)
It's a $149 difference that could be attributable to the fact if the surveyors used more responses from Latino parents who lived in Texas. These parents are already paying higher driving costs for their children and that cost may be reflected in that total.
It's a discrepancy that is disturbing but not as alarming as the survey statistic that shows only 54 percent of Latino parents carry their teens on their insurance policies versus 72 percent of non-Hispanic parents. In fact, the survey says that a whopping 28 percent of Latino teen drivers are uninsured versus only 10 percent of non-Hispanic teens.
Is it because Latino parents are so cheap that they won't add their children to their policies?
No. The survey already shows that Latino parents do more in covering driving costs for their children and for a longer time than non-Hispanic parents.
It boils down to the immigration issue.
Undocumented parents are not allowed to buy car insurance, even though they need cars to get to jobs, take their children to school, go to the grocery store, doctor appointments, etc. As a result, those undocumented parents can't cover their children who must drive around without insurance so they can get to school and their after-school jobs to help the family.
There was a time, in Texas at least, when the undocumented could buy car insurance. It made for safer streets for all drivers because if someone was involved in a car accident chances were both parties had insurance. Nowadays, that assurance is gone which may partly explain why prices are so high in Texas.
But in trying to demonize undocumented immigrants, politicians and critics enjoy describing the group as "criminals" and "lawbreakers." The truth is by laws such as not allowing them to buy car insurance, it is the U.S. system that is purposely criminalizing undocumented families who would be more than willing to do the right thing and get insurance for themselves and their children.
We know this because when given the opportunity these same families that drive without car insurance today at one time had it.