The number of young drivers on the road these days is steadily declining, according to research compiled by Automotive News, and while that may mean you're less likely to get into a fender bender with a high school sophomore, it may also spell bad news for the automotive industry. The article says that in 1978, around half of all 16 year-olds and three-quarters of all 17 year-olds had their driver's licenses. Fast forward to 2008, and those numbers have dropped off to 31 percent and 49 percent, respectively.

That's a significant drop, and its brought about in part by the fact that some states have moved the licensing age from 16 to 18, but Automotive News sites a few sources that claim the internet is to blame. With everything available at your fingertips, why bother with the expense and hassle of owning a car? Likewise, driving a car makes using mobile internet devices like smart phones and laptops less than convenient compared to public transportation.

The article goes on to say that young folk also point to environmental concerns as one of the largest reasons for foregoing a driver's license. Whatever the cause, manufacturers are likely looking at this information with a worried eye, just as Japan's automakers have been doing for the last 10 years.

[Source: Automotive News]