Why are fewer teens driving? Blame the economy

WASHINGTON – It used to be that getting a driver’s license was a right of passage for teenagers — but fewer and fewer teens are rushing to get behind the wheel.

A University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study says that about 69 percent of 1y-year-olds had licenses in 1983. That number has dropped to 50 percent by 2008.

It’s not just teenage drivers either. A recent study by the Frontier Group says that between 2000 and 2010, the number of 14 to 34-year-olds without licenses has increased from 21 percent to 26 percent.

What’s causing this? The sour economy.

The Frontier Group study says many teens and their families simply can’t afford the gas and the cost of an extra car or insurance. New licensing laws are also making getting a license more expensive.

It’s not just the cost of driving along.

Kathy Clausen, former president of Driving School Association of Americas, says teens are less dependent on cars for socializing now because of new technology.

“They socialize by [social] networking, texting, Skyping — so they don’t seem to need a car for socializing like we did when we were younger.”

The Frontier Group study also says that many young people are moving to areas with alternative transportation options — like public transit.

Many are also moving to more dense urban areas — where they can more easily walk to bike to get around.

WTOP’s Windsor Johnston contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

Advertiser Content