Teens today snub driving

Once upon a time, driving symbolized freedom and independence for those who had yet to get their licenses. But nowadays there are fewer teenagers rushing to the DMV on their 16th birthdays.

Driving is viewed by today’s generation as, largely, nothing more than a hassle.

It turns out that teens aren’t rushing to get their driver’s licenses these days, something almost unfathomable by those 15- and 16-year-olds from a generation earlier. Why the sudden shift in cultural behavior? It turns out our society is more connected now and there isn’t as much of a need for a car, some experts think. This is the first time in decades that vehicle travel is slowing down.

The numbers

According to data from the Michigan Transportation Research Institute, between 1983 and 2008, the percentage of 16-year-olds obtaining driver’s licenses around the nation fell from 46 percent to 31 percent. The percentage of 17-year-olds with licenses fell from almost 69 percent to 50 percent. For 18-year-olds, the drop was from 80 percent to 65 percent. And numbers from the U.S. Department of Transportation tell the same story.

Facebook, Twitter, etc.

“The availability of virtual contact through electronic means has reduced the need for actual contact among young people,” Michael Sivak, research professor at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, told the Los Angeles Times.

Yes, parents, Facebook, Twitter and various other social media platforms are, at least, partially responsible for your teens avoiding the task of driving. Apparently, since the birth of the internet, maintaining a social life from the comforts of home is easier than ever.

Other factors at play

Of course, the internet isn’t the only reason teens are delaying the almighty task of obtaining a driver’s license. Experts think there are a handful of reasons and grouped together it has resulted in the decline of independent teen drivers. Some of those reasons include rising gas prices, the cost of insurance and the extracurricular lives of teens today. Students today also have more homework than their predecessors. Teens are used to being shuttled around by their parents at an early age — to baseball practice, dance lessons, soccer, chess club, SAT tutors, you name it.

Our teens are far busier than ever before. Also, many communities, especially in large cities, have better and safer public transportation options that were not as readily available decades ago. There is also the expansion of the “green movement,” and many youngsters identify with efforts to conserve energy and lessen their carbon foot prints. For whatever the reason, it’s apparent that more teens are willing to wait when it comes to driving.

Read more on teens and driving

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