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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  • 136 Comments
      bwhitedjr
      • 2 Years Ago
      You didn't mention the unbelievably high price of motor vehicles. How do you expect a young adult to afford even the cheaper vehicles for sale? Non of them are worth the amount asked. Who wants a car that can't get repaired cheaply due to uni-body construction? Who wants a car that has an advertised fuel efficient engine that get worse milage than an eight cylinder with a leak in the fuel line? And what's with six catalytic converters? I would rather make my own ride, at least I'ld know what I was getting!
      rjnod80
      • 2 Years Ago
      Cost of insurance may also have factored into the decision. also those "young adults" polled could have been more urban in the later study that the 2001 study. The article is void of information on how or what was asked both in 2001 and more recently.
      injo423
      • 2 Years Ago
      Affordable cars would help people. I don't need a 350 HP car to drive 5 miles to work.
      e tate
      • 2 Years Ago
      You don't mention the ever increasing cost of automobile insurance for young people.
        NANCY
        • 2 Years Ago
        @e tate
        the cost of insurance are killing us all not just the young.
      globaltrekkie
      • 2 Years Ago
      This shows a shift in society. People are not driving more because they cannot afford the car, insurance, maintenence, and gas. It is the same reasons young people would rather rent than buy a house. Young people are starting to see that a house is not an investment like once thought. We would all like to think it is because we care about the environment, but really, we can't afford it.
        george costanza
        • 2 Years Ago
        @globaltrekkie
        but it is all connected. supply demand. overpopulation. resources depletion....we are ALL environmentalists in the end...whether you believe in reality or not....mother nature will k*(ck your a89 every time.
      Ford Future
      • 2 Years Ago
      The 1% War on Unions and Wages. - No Jobs in the US, goto China - Low paying jobs, can't afford a car. - College Grads, in debt, can't afford a car. - Recession.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Compared to Europe and the UK, where gas is often over eight dollars a gallon, Americans still have very cheap gas. But we'll never stop complaining that we pay too much. Then again, we think our taxes are high, too. Spend a few years living and working in a place like Sweden and you'll see REAL taxes. LOL
      Mr. Rockafeller
      • 2 Years Ago
      thank god they are driving less...b/c though they have really fast reflexes and usually no body impediments like pains in the neck, arm, etc. that would potentially make them good drivers......Well in the end they arent... and that is cuz they get too distracted by all their mobile divices and chatting w/ friends in the car. This thought coming from a 56 yr. old.....
        george costanza
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mr. Rockafeller
        well in this area almost weekly somebody runs over a motorcyclist and every case it is an older person. old people dont get charged more for insurance since they are old. but pre tea party fu*( everybody reality, one could be sympathetic with plight of somebody knowing they shouldnt drive but they are 'on their own' with no public transportation and if this area is like anywhere else put the senior retirement village as far as humanly possible from groceries or anywhere else some human might need to get necessities for living just to make it 'more interesting' apparently....this country is just run by ah9les and id!ots and usually they are all on local boards looking at a menu of options and invariably choosing whatever is the stu8p9est thing if it means another dollar in their pocket from developer or whoever. build sh!tty homes and charge several hundred grand because it is in 'gated' community but built with shoddy materials. nobody in US cares about efficiency. have a blighted downtown? who cares? still build some more sprawl to make sure people have to drive some more....the whole system is a house of cards built on quicksand...demographics doesn't support anything we are doing now...printing presses can't print dollars fast enough to keep actual value from plummeting. thank god for EU collapse to make dollar look like a 'safe haven' in 2012.
      mdog002
      • 2 Years Ago
      "more readily available public transportation" yeah right...the fool that wrote this article evidentally has never been to the most populated states in the nation..like California....you couldn't get across the street with public transportation there.....
      carney373
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is a sign of poverty, not progress. You'd think ABG would be a site that supports and celebrates driving, as long as it's green driving, rather than buying into anti-car claptrap.
        Nick
        • 2 Years Ago
        @carney373
        carney373 You can't impose your world view onto people, it's their FREEDOM to chose how they get around ! Maybe you like making every trip by car, because you're a fat, lazy slob, but some people like to ride the bus together.
          metusmetu
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Nick
          Buses are ok, but I prefer trains! If we had more passenger rail service, this country would be a lot better place to live. Just think of the money you would save if you could take the train where you want to go!, and no TSA!
        Vlad
        • 2 Years Ago
        @carney373
        No green driving is greener than not driving at all. Our current "prosperity" (huge suburban homes with lawns gobbling up water and fertilizer, riding mega-SUVs everywhere, eating more junk than we could possibly digest) is going away. The only question is are we going down with it, or not.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've noticed it. A lot of people stop me and ask me about my electric bike when i am riding it - what does it cost? how fast does it go? how far does it go? etc. The people who are the most interested are the young ones and the occasional forward thinking person who is a bit older. The people who don't get it tend to use their car as a primary form of transport and think nothing ill of it. I get strange looks and asked why i don't just pedal or ride a motorcycle. A young person never responds that way. Now, i am an oddball. I'm 30 years old and never 'got' the appeal of a car. It is the least free form of transportation. Traffic violations are expensive, traffic rules can be complex, maintenance is expensive, being stuck in gridlock sucks, parking can be spendy, insurance is expensive, fuel is expensive, and the vehicle itself is expensive too, and definitely not getting any cheaper. ( I do own two cars, but don't like to drive them, btw ) None of this is a problem on a bike or eBike. And public transit keeps getting better in metro areas. More people live in urban areas. A lot of things that would require driving to and fro are done online now. I think cars may be on their way out.
        cuccicustoms
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        Traffic laws are the same on a bicycle as in a car ,you moron!
        clenchersan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        I have an e-bike too, and use it whenever possible. I can go for quite long periods of time without ever starting up the car. Do I miss the gas station? Not at all!
      Lt Dan
      • 2 Years Ago
      I couldn't wait to drive as a teenager.Looking back it may be for best that more younger people are not driveing.
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