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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]


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  • 64 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      NO.

      The rate of teen driving parallels teen employment which also parallels school enrollment. There are record lows of teen employment (age 16-19) these days, some 33%, whereas in 1979 it was 50% for males and 44 for women. While on the other hand school enrollment is at record highs. Too bad enrollment along isn't helping these morons read and write at a GED level.

        • 4 Years Ago
        That's because US education never evolved. Now 13+ years of education is being considered as prep for 4 more years just to get a decent job. While my parents got jobs that allowed them to own vehicles and homes right out of HS (without drowning them in debt).
        • 4 Years Ago
        That 4 years might not even enable you, anymore. Nothing was available to me. On to law school I went.
      • 4 Years Ago
      both are proven factors for first-time young driver accidents.

      but way to go autobloger, igonoring reality again to spout your worthless opinion.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Good. More road for me and less cars to get in my way.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The car culture is just changing, not dieing. People will still love cars but the day to day car isn't the one they are going to love, my guess is eventually people will have a commuter car and a weekend car.

      Cars nowadays are too unproductive and inconvenient, you hop in a car and you're in a time warp back to the 90's, you can't talk on phones, surf internet, text, or even operate an in car gps without the brake on, you lose all touch with everyone and everything else. When a car can drive itself, or with current public transportation you can do whatever you want, read a newspaper, work before getting to work, internet, school work, txt...i love riding the rail for this reason. If anything there should be a choice let people that love to drive and have nothing else better to do drive, and let busy people that need 1 extra hour a day have the choice to work while being driven.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Well , being that a car is the number one killer of teens, I guess this is a win-win situation. Do we really need to build 100,000,000,000,000,000 cars every year?

      • 4 Years Ago
      This is greatly dependent on where you live.
      I'm a senior in college, and grew up in Indianapolis. The day I turned 15 I got my learner's permit, and my license the day I turned 16. Almost all of my friends did the same as well. Granted, most of my friends shared a love for cars, but even those who didn't got their licenses right away for the independence being able to buy a car brings.
        • 4 Years Ago
        *drive a car
        • 4 Years Ago
        Thank you. I am also from Indy and now in college, my friends and I did the exact same as you. The day I could get my license I got it and I already had a car to drive. I can't imagine not wanting to get your license.
      • 4 Years Ago
      When I was 16, 7 years ago, my car insurance started at well over $3000 a year in Arizona-for liability only. Do you think that may have something to do with it?
      • 4 Years Ago
      The reasoning giving is complete malarky, mobile devices and the internet have little and I'll be bold ebough to say nothing to do with this decline.
      Driving is an expensive way to get around, with the price of insurance, maintainance, fuel, the cost of vehicles, all on the rise. Many will forgo automobile ownership/ driving until they can actually afford it. However, with with the unemplyment rate rising (though that is on the decline or so they say) and many jobs paying low wages, driving is becoming more and more an expensive privilage that many teenagers(and even a number of adults) cannot afford. This would be a more reasonable explanation.
      I doubt many teenagers are deciding "hey lets not bother going to the mall tonight, lets just get together on MSN and browse amazon.com"
      • 4 Years Ago
      Well from what I have seen -

      1) LAUSD moved away from District funded driver's education. This impacts lower income and lower middle class students more than others. When I was in school in Ventura County, I had District funded driver education and training for largely nothing cost wise. This is not the case anymore, most districts have dropped this program for budget reasons.

      2) Binge Drinking and Driving, Cellphones, Aggressive Driving and now Texting while Driving all add to the cost of insuring teens. They are their own worst enemy in this regard, no defense for this.

      I don't think its the "Internet" at all, I think its related cost and another post touched on the fact that most middle class families that are feeling the pinch from 30+ years of Neo-Conservative rule with a few blips of prosperity during the internet boom, can no longer afford to help or buy their children their first car. More over unemployment for Teens hovers around 40% Nationwide and with the flagging economy Older Adults are applying for jobs traditionally held by Teens.

      Finally I think with Nuclear Familes, some Teens are being carted around by their part time working parent and friends lucky enough to get driver ed and their own car or use a parents car, why get your own???

      • 4 Years Ago
      Duh.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That's insane.

      Did they look at anything more likely.... like the ubran vs. rural population and mass transit availability and cost of insurance etc comparatively equalized to earnings potential of a teen (or parent) in those time periods?

      Also... what do the raw numbers work out to with those percentages given population differences? Was there really much of a dip in raw numbers at all?
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's because most of us are idiots who don't like cars, and really they're better off not driving.


      It's also because noone wants to pay for gas when we have better things to spend on. Even a motorhead like me hated paying $93 to fill up when gas was $4.65.
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