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More Teens Wait to Drive [POLL/AUDIO]

Fewer teens are getting their driver’s license when they become of age.

Teen Driver
Flickr User Adam Kiefaber

Data from the Federal Highway Administration finds about 28 percent of 16-year-olds had their driver’s license in 2010, compared with about 46 percent in 1983. Those numbers go up as the teens get older, but today’s older teens are still less likely to be driving than those from the 1980s.

University of Michigan analysis found about 70 percent of 19-year-olds had their license in 2010 compared with 87 percent in 1983. Why?

“I think one of the main factors is cost,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “It is a lot more expensive today to purchase a car, to insure a car and to fuel a car than it was 20 years ago and that cost is prohibiting families from getting cars for teen drivers. Unfortunately, teens who are working minimum wage jobs can’t afford to purchase vehicles by themselves.”

There has also been a shift in parenting styles and many moms and dads don’t mind driving their children wherever they need to go.

“That comes from a culture where parents, in recent years, have been taking kids back and forth to games and practices and have been very involved in being the chauffeur in their children’s lives and it continues into the late teen years and no one seems to think anything of it,” said Noble.

Another factor is social media.

“Kids are not connected 24/7. Going back years ago, the only way to know what was going on with your friends was to either be in school with them or to be hanging out with them after school and having that connection in person,” said Noble. “With social media and smartphones that are connected 24/7, everyone knows what’s going on so you don’t necessarily need to be out there, you just need to be connected.”

“At some point, kids will want that independence and that right of passage,” said Noble. “I don’t expect to see people bringing their parents on dates as they get older or being driven to college classes, but that transition will come and the older a person gets, the less cumbersome it is to obtain a license.”


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