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Why Aren’t Teens Rushing To Get Their Driver’s Licenses Anymore? — ‘The Why’

Welcome to the newest edition of The Why.Why aren’t teens rushing to get their driver’s licenses anymore?” Good question. (OK, it’s a little “AAA” but it beats answering questions about odd intimate acts. Seriously? We thought the “Hershey Highway” was just Route 322 in Pennsylvania, mmmkay?)

driver's license

Image: HSW

USA Today reports that “many teenagers are deciding to wait to get their driver’s licenses.” According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the percentage of high school seniors who had a driver’s license fell from 85% in 1996 to 73% in 2010.”

Lenore Skenazy of FreeRangeKids confirms that, according to a study from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, every year “fewer 16 to 24 year-olds are getting driver’s licenses.” She hopes “that part of the reason for this decline is that . . . more young folks are taking public transportation or riding their bikes. “

Surely there must be more though, right? She agrees that “even if that’s true, it’s surely only part of the picture.” She speculates:

driver's license

Image: Mass

“If young people don’t want the independence a driver’s license affords, it could be because they have never experienced independence, period. With only about 10% of kids walking to school, and one study showing under 10% playing outside on their own any given week, kids are under constant surveillance when they’re outside, and more often, they’re inside.  Any spirit of adventure is stifled, stomped or steered into a supervised activity. “

Naturally, there also those who blame technology. Teens can communicate through personal cell phones, various social media networks and can entertain themselves using technology as well.

Others speculate that the cost of gas and insurance and family income play part. No, these things have been a concern for decades now. Besides, where there’s a will there’s a way, right?

As a former Driving Instructor and the father of a nearly 18 year-old son who has no interest in driving, yours truly can confirm that some kids just don’t want all the responsibility it entails. Beyond the related expenses, some teens feel that being responsible for their own lives let alone the lives of others is intimidating.


Image: FLR

Finally, with Driver’s Education being pulled out of the schools many teenagers just are not willing to put in the time to learn how the system works.  Without it being part of their daily school schedule, teenagers can’t always fit it into their life otherwise.  According to a USA Today poll, 56.6 percent of unlicensed teenagers 19 and claim they are either “too busy” or they don’t have “enough time” to get their licenses.

Why aren’t teens rushing to get their driver’s licenses anymore? Now you know.

You ask the questions.  We provide the answers.

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About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.