A new study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group indicates Americans are driving less than they were a few years ago. That drop is largely thanks to young people. Those between the ages of 16 and 34 drove 23 percent fewer miles in 2009 than they did in 2001. While it's tempting to attribute the decline to the recession, the study suggests the decline may continue even after the economy picks up pace. Factors like steeper fuel prices, more readily available public transportation and a shift in priorities are likely to continue to allow young drivers to cut down on their time behind the wheel.

The study cites one poll that found a full 45 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34 have moved to replace driving with other modes of transportation. By comparison, only 32 percent of older drivers have done the same.

Is this bad news? Not from our point of view. Our aging highway infrastructure is constantly struggling to keep pace with the volume of cars on the road. With more drivers opting for alternative transportation, there's bound to be less traffic and more room for those of us who actually prefer driving. Throw in decreased demand for gasoline, and we may even see fuel prices stay manageable in the near future. All hail the new generation.


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  • 60 Comments
      Hazdaz
      • 2 Years Ago
      I love cars more than just about anyone I know, but even I would be happy to give up on having to drive places if its a viable option. It looks like many younger folks are indeed finding that it is viable to do so and to that I applaud them. Having just spend almost a month in Germany, I see that a well-planned, public transit system can easily replace the need for a car... and even help you keep in better shape all at the same time. It still amazes me how awful our public transit system is in the US in large part to short-sighted political BS.
      WillieD
      • 2 Years Ago
      This sounds great and yet it seems like traffic is increasing every day where I live.
      IDS_fk
      • 2 Years Ago
      Lack of Jobs, Costs of Insurance, Gas, and New Cars, is this a surprise to anyone? Chances are if you live in a city, it is considerably faster to ride a bike or a Motorcycle. Plus Populations have been moving closer or into Cities so This makes sense. Owning a Car in an city is ludicrous unless you can afford it (or Live in Detroit). Regardless it makes sense for a cheaper modes of Transport. Besides if your gonna drive its best in the open Bends and Hairpins of a fine twisty road, not stuck on some freeway traffic.
        bomgd3
        • 2 Years Ago
        @IDS_fk
        Agreed. I love cars, but not so much as a mode of transportation. Driving into New York City, for example, is about a million times more horrible than taking Metro North.
      Les Foster
      • 2 Years Ago
      Dumb question, but how do they go grocery shopping or bring home bigger purchases? I can't imagine carrying a load of groceries or tv in a cab, bus or subway.
        Stew
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Les Foster
        Younger people tend to use the internet more.. Its likely that bulky items are bought online and delivered. Also, we have now higher population density. If you live in a large metropolitan area, you can walk to a lot of things that you need.. shops, restaurants. Unemployment is also rather high for younger people going through mid 20's, no jobs means less places to go.
        citidriver
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Les Foster
        Yes, they actually do just that.
        S.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Les Foster
        Car sharing (ZipCar, Hertz Connect) are becoming popular as well.
      KEVIN
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sure there is money factor here. There is also a technology factor. Young people roaming with their gadgets and those gadgets open up the world to them. With gadgets they don't have to go places, gadget entertain them. Gadgets also help them to pass time while waiting at bus stop.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      REMUSRM
      • 2 Years Ago
      I got rid of my car in feb and only have a moto and bike... did not miss the gas bill, the payment and maintenance. oh yeah... the TRAFFIC
      Cruising
      • 2 Years Ago
      I could care less how many miles people drive, but I do care how you drive. Quality not quantity. Be considerate and drive safe.
      Stix
      • 2 Years Ago
      Even if we ignore the lack of jobs, and the cost of fuel, the reason why young people are shying away from driving are two things: cost and convenience. Especially when living in a city. When you factor in gas, insurance, maintenance, and the costs of depreciation, that's a lot of money you're spending on one car. Look at the price of used cars nowadays! It's a bloody joke! For most young people with jobs, do you honestly think they going to waste their money on new cars when they have a million other expenses to worry about? And don't get me started on convenience. Not everyone enjoys driving to work everyday, regardless of what car you own. Traffic jams are not productive to society, and for some young people, living in the city seems much more feasible. Most of what you either want or need is close by, and walking around is both free and productive to one's health. The same cannot be said for sitting around in 3-mile long traffic jams, and losing all of that important time that can be better used elsewhere. Yes, the city may be more expensive than the burbs, but some people are willing to make that sacrifice if they can break even, and eliminate unnecessary things in their lives. Especially cars in this case. And yes, even smartphones and better laptops are contributing to this trend.
      Kevin Potts
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm 41 years old and haven't owned a car since '94. Been using public transportation for years now. It's a good way to stay healthy by walking more. You also are more likely to buy less food at one time, because it's harder to carry 15 bags of groceries then just 4 bags. Of course public transportation has it's huge downfalls, such as accessibility to where you wanna go, and limited scheduling.I live in suburbs and it takes me an hour to get downtown Chicago. A car is 40 minute drive, so I only lose 20 minutes, but I save a crapload of money.
      Chris
      • 2 Years Ago
      This comes as no surprise, given the state of the economy, the costs associated with owing a car, and the fact that my generation seems more interested in their gadgets. Aside from that, there are many other factors that have made driving a little less appealing. Roads are more crowded, due to increased urban sprawl, and laws are much tougher now. In many places, teen drivers have curfews, and limits of how many passengers they can have with them while they are driving. As a result, I don't think as many people of my generation have the same romantic notions of the open road and cruising the main drag with their friends on Friday night in their buddy's Chevelle with some beers, and some fake ids, and maybe some illegal things like many of the Boomer generation did. On top of that, most of the automobiles these days seem so sedated, complex, and withdrawn from the road and elements when compared to many of the older cars and trucks. With all of that in mind, living in a more walkable area, and driving less, or forgoing owning a vehicle all together, doesn't seem like such a bad idea. You can go out and do your thing, and not have to worry about gas, insurance, car payments, maintenance, miles, idiot drivers, traffic jams designated drivers, being stranded, cops, roadblocks, etc. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next several years when the economy improves and more folks have had the opportunity to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of both.
      crzydavy
      • 2 Years Ago
      Younger drivers are driving less for two reason. 1. The crippling recession that Obama claimed ended a year ago.Nearly half of all college grads can't find work. That whole not having a job thing makes owning a car a bit difficult. 2. Younger drivers are helmet wearing, check in with their parents before they do anything, vaginas. When I was 17 I would drive to places just to see them or to see if I could. I didn't check with anyone. I grabbed some friends and I went and I got lost a lot. You know what I did, I asked people where I was and how to get where I was going. And it was great, it taught me how to think and figure things out and how to be a man!
        timm
        • 2 Years Ago
        @crzydavy
        IT'S OBAMA'S FAULT, OF COURSE!!!!! HE'S ANTI-ROAD AND WANTS EVERYONE TO WEAR BIRKENSTOCKS!
          jaydc1388
          • 2 Years Ago
          @timm
          I don't even know what bikenstocks are, but it sounds communist so you must be telling the truth!!!
        Oli123
        • 2 Years Ago
        @crzydavy
        wow, you were such a badass
        Jones
        • 2 Years Ago
        @crzydavy
        Super Badass! I bet you walked uphill to and from school in 2ft of snow too!
        ilikedags
        • 2 Years Ago
        @crzydavy
        so brave.
        mmapying
        • 2 Years Ago
        @crzydavy
        davy, u so kerazy!
        Tina Dang
        • 2 Years Ago
        @crzydavy
        sweetheart, Im sure times have changed since you were younger. Now you have pedophiles on every corner, flesh eating morons, and more people carrying guns freely. I don't have children, but if I did, I would have them keep me posted on where they are, based on the new crazy world we live in
        Quen47
        • 2 Years Ago
        @crzydavy
        Can you link to the study that you are citing? I'm just curious if that was Harvard or Stanford or maybe MIT that came to that conclusion.
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