Why Are Fewer Teens Driving These Days?

Here’s some news that will please many of you who cringe when you see a cocky teenager behind the wheel of an automobile. A new report claims that not only are fewer teens driving their own cars, but that fewer teens are on the road in general.

According to the study, the number of used cars being sold for use by teens has dropped from 7.5 million/year to 4.2 million. And before you think it might have something to do with fewer used cars being sold, researchers say that the overall percentage of used cars meant for teens has sunk from 17.4% in 2005 to 10.9%.

The economy seems to be the major factor, with teen unemployment now at double the rate it was in 2005.

Says the study:

Reflecting the jobs market, there has been a serious decline in the number of teens who make a full payment for their vehicle to parents — down from 21% to 16% while parents are paying the full price in 44% of the cases vs. 43.5%.

There is also the fact that not as many teens seem eager to get behind the wheel. For example, in Colorado, the number of licenses issued to minors dropped 9% between 2004-2008, even though teen population in the state grew by 14% during those same years.

Of interest to the people at GM and Ford — The teens who are getting used cars are buying American in greater numbers, primarily because they’re cheaper.

If you want to relive your youth for a moment, click here to read what Consumerist commenters were driving when they were pimply, awkward teens.

Deferred dream: Fewer teens getting their first car [USA Today]


Edit Your Comment

  1. wcnghj says:

    Maybe because insurance can cost upwards of $200/month extra just to add one teen?

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      No shit. Health insurance premiums aren’t the only thing that’s skyrocketed.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I agree. This is the most likely factor in the drop. Despite teenagers’ ability to make themselves the center of the entire universe, parents still hold the purse strings when it comes to huge purchases like cars. The majority of teens probably don’t make enough money to afford their own car and their own insurance, so they depend on their parents to supply a car or pay insurance.

    • mythago says:

      But is that new? I remember my parents bitching about it costing a couple thousand dollars extra to put me on their insurance, and that was….um…..a while ago.

    • sonneillon says:

      I think that is part of it, but more to the point I think it’s because nobody is hiring teens. Why hire a teen for a sh*t job when you can hire someone with 5 years of experience and can work better hours for the same pay?

      • Genuineduck says:

        Yeah, this. 19 years old and still haven’t held a job in my life. I’m just thankful I’m going into college now instead of coming out.

    • dangermike says:

      I’m sure that’s a factor, along with:

      -stronger restrictions against teens driving (that’s case here in Cali, anyway. YMMV elsewhere)
      -fewer jobs hiring teens due to fewer low end jobs being available and more people with work experience out competing inexperienced teens.
      -cash for clunkers. Fewer used cars are available, having been cashed in last year, and those that are available may very well be priced out of a teen’s range (both due to the likelihood of being in better condition than the cars scrapped for cash for clunkers, and through the likelihood that non-teen sources of demand in the used car market can afford more than teens can)
      -the places they might drive to also cost money. Why drive to the carhop if you can’t afford a malt? Why not just bike down to the ravine and “hang out”
      -the items consumed “hanging out” in the ravine cost too much due to all the aging boomers who had their heloc’s to keep the dope flowing.

      I could go on. What it comes down to is that in most cases, it’s economic.

    • anyanka323 says:

      -Fewer teens in most urban or semiurban areas are getting jobs due to the traditional teen workplaces (fast food, grocery stores) hiring older, more experienced applicants. Probably the most common jobs that teens can get are seasonal summer jobs at country clubs or golf courses. In rural areas, it’s a bit different. I went to high school in rural Northern Illinois and detassling corn was the big summer job. I lasted less than a week before a severe allergy attack made me quit.
      -I got my driver’s license in 2001 and as a female honor student, my rates were about 2/3 of what my male classmates were. I know rates have gone up and some parents see that as a financial burden if their child has no real reason to drive to school or a job. They live close enough to school where they could walk, take the bus, or ride with friends. They also probably don’t have a job. I’m sure the money would be better used being put in the college fund rather than being used for car insurance.
      -I know I thought Illinois had strict requirements when I was 16, but they seem relaxed compared to the byzantine restrictions now. The main reason behind the heightened restrictions have been safety studies and the insurance companies. They make a lot of money off teen drivers, but they also have to pay out a lot when said driver gets in an accident. They’ll never say it openly but I’m sure they would like the driving age to be raised to 18.

  2. rjaguar3 says:

    It definitely has to do with the increasingly byzantine regulations on teen drivers with GDL programs over the past five years.

    • keso444 says:

      I agree, i think most states have heavy restrictions for getting your license now adays. I think in CT its like 18 to drive on your own.

    • lawnmowerdeth says:

      I’ve seen a lot of states that essentially ban having any friends your age in the car, if you’re under 18. Kind of makes it pointless to drive.
      Glad that crap didn’t exist for me!

    • anyanka323 says:

      I know there are good reasons for all the restrictions for teen drivers because they lack experience and judgment. Some states seem to have taken it too far.

      I know I’m going into another can of worms, but older drivers’ accident rates are about the same as teens. You don’t see states putting restrictions on when and where they can go, which is probably due to lobbying by the AARP and the possibility that it would be seen as age discrimination. The simple fact is that older people, especially those over 80, may be mentally sharp but some may not have the same reaction time due to declining physical condition. I know I would love for my 93 grandmother to quit driving before she has an accident or worse kills somebody in an accident.

      • djshinyo says:

        I agree with you partially about limiting the ability of elderly folks to drive, but a ban at a certain age level doesn’t make sense. Really, this is why you should at some point need to re-take a driver’s test, even if one is just renewing his or her license.

        I remember my grandmother driving for far too long into the on set of her glaucoma…..thankfully, no harm ever came to her or anyone else….

    • epb says:

      When i was 16 and got my license way back in 1998, the rule here in NH was that you couldn’t drive without an adult for 3 months after getting your license. So guess what happened? I didn’t drive for 3 months! That’s really going to help you become a safer driver.

  3. savashley says:

    my teen brother isn’t driving his 100% paid for by my parents pimped out pathfinder because he got a DUI a few nights ago

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      Every word of that sentence highlights everything that is wrong with American teenagers.

      Now get off my lawn :)

    • shockwaver1 says:

      I hope you stabbed him in the face for that DUI.

    • segfault, registered cat offender says:
    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      Your teen brother? Where do you live? I thought the legal drinking age was 21 in every US state. However, now that you mention it, new regulations in Ontario in effect August 1st require that any driver under the age of 22 (yes, 21 years, 364 days, 23 hrs and 59 minutes or younger, as the regulation points out) no matter what level of licence they have, may not have any amount of alcohol in them when driving. If they’re pulled over and they blow 0.01%, their licence is suspended, their vehicle seized, and a fine of at least $200 (plus the towing and storage fee for the seized vehicle) comes. Imagine a poor kid who may have had one beer 4 hours before driving and got pulled over for a RIDE check. Small wonder there are fewer younger drivers (other than other factors previously noted: fewer cheaper vehicles, huge insurance premiums if you can even get insurance for a young driver, younger people not having the disposable income to afford owning a car etc.)

      • cluberti says:

        Of course, knowing you’ll be driving, and knowing the law says if the breathalizer finds any alcohol on your breath/in your blood you’re screwed, I just don’t feel bad for someone who gets dinged for it. While I can’t argue that older drivers are also generally poor due to declining facilities and reaction time, young drivers are just as bad. And as most young drivers are too young to vote, they’ll get the legislative heave-ho, not the older folks that can still vote Mr. and Mrs. politico out of office.

        Can’t say I’m for the provision, but I can’t honestly say I feel strongly against it either. Facts would corroborate that young drivers are already (viewed as a whole group) poorer drivers than the rest of us, and add in an impairment and I can see why there’s such a law.

      • savashley says:

        Yes, the legal drinking age is 21. My brother is 18 and we live in North Carolina. He got a ticket for speeding, underage drinking, and a DUI. Just because it’s illegal doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

    • bullymom2 says:

      um, i’m in the market for a pathfinder…

    • YdoUthinkURright says:

      Way to share too much of your brothers business. The internet really draws a lot of bone-heads.

      • dolemite says:

        Why is she the bonehead? Her brother has the DUI. No skin off of her back to share his dumbassery.

      • savashley says:

        I don’t know how the rest of the world works but where we live, DUIs are public record. Plus, you don’t know me or my brother and neither does anyone else on this site, so who even cares?

  4. Jdavis says:

    The reason I didn’t drive (and still don’t as I’m no a junior) is because insurance is so d*** expensive these days! Plus I can just as easily get around using public transit.

    • WontEndWell says:

      Really? I see all these comments about the cost of insurance and when I bought my new Subaru years ago when I was 18 (Yes, I’ve been the one paying for it all the whole time.) my insurance for full coverage and $500 deductible was only $62 a month with State Farm.

  5. Blueberry Scone says:

    Even if they have jobs, I’m with Wcnghj – insurance for teens is expensive. Once you include gas and maintenance of a car, it doesn’t really seem worth it, especially if you’re a teen working a minimum wage job with so-so hours.

  6. cash_da_pibble says:

    Or the fact that just getting a license when you’re under 18 is a pain in the ass.

    Here in California, if you’re under 18, you have to
    1) take a driver’s ed class.
    2) hold your permit for 6 months.
    3) complete 6 hours of professional driver’s training.
    4) complete 50 hours of supervised driving.

    at that rate, it’s just cheaper to wait until you’re 18.

    • Megalomania says:

      driver’s ed class is generally done in school. the 50 hours of supervised driving is just driving around with your parents in the car while you have a learners. holding your learners for six months costs nothing, and you can probably get it at 15-16. The only part of that that costs money is the 6 hours of professional driving, which pays for itself rather quickly if you can then get a job.

      Plus, if a parent is no longer needed to shuttle around the teenager, they can work more or just have more free time, which is pretty valuable all on its own…

    • evilcharity says:

      Those rules aren’t too bad and honestly, how can anyone verify the number of hours practiced? I think the hassle comes with the provisional license that those under 18 get in California…there are a bunch of rules about who can be in the car and when and you can drive your sister to band practice if the sun is up but you can’t have anyone else under 18 in the car and blah blah blah. I agree that waiting for 18 seems less hassle.

    • fs2k2isfun says:

      You think that’s bad? In countries like Germany it costs upwards of $2000, and you have to wait until you are 18 to get your license.

    • Santas Little Helper says:

      Jeeze, and I got my pilots license with 10 hrs supervised, and 40 total hours. California = Lame.

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      It doesn’t help that so many restrictions are placed on drivers under 18 – daytime only, no more than so many passengers (makes double-dating a quaint ritual of the past), etc. – that it simply isn’t worth it.

    • jurupa says:

      And yet none of those things are really that much of a pain. Most of it actually goes by pretty quick. You are just making it a bigger deal than what it is really.

    • cluberti says:

      I’m actually for making kids wait until they’re older to get full licenses, and at least a driver’s ed course should be mandatory before being able to apply for a license under 18. Being a driver of a vehicle is dangerous business, and having a driver behind the wheel with little to no experience moving around a 2000+lb weapon at speed just isn’t a good recipe for success. When I was turning 16 (admittedly it was quite a while ago), taking a professional course was above and beyond the driver’s ed (at that time provided by the state education system in high school), but provided a very hefty insurance premium reduction (paying a little less than I would if I hadn’t taken it and was 21), and I didn’t have the driving restrictions that an under-18 driver had without the course.

      It provided enough incentive for me to pay the few hundred dollars to take the course, as I saved that many times over in the next 4 or so years in insurance premium payments.

    • Powerlurker says:

      In Texas, they just started requiring behind-the-wheel professional driving instruction for everyone under 25 applying for a license.

  7. phil says:

    Another factor in regard to this: When I was growing up, driving was pretty much required for even a modestly active social life. You can’t ignore the impact of the always on-line/texting teenager world: They don’t feel the need to be able to drive in order to socialize with friends.

    • econobiker says:

      Awesome point there and completely makes sense when teens no longer need to hang at the shopping mall but only update their Facebook etc on their status to share with their friends.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      Perhaps, but you can’t drive up to Anal Point on a computer.

  8. edison234 says:

    They would rather have mobile phones with data plans.

    • adrienna says:

      Yes! I was on a similar wavelength. Also, I know several teens who are basically too lazy/too coddled to go through the hassle of getting their licenses. It’s simply easier to let their parents shuttle them around; hence they have no motivation to get their licenses (or jobs or maintain decent grades).

  9. BelleSade says:

    I got my license at 17, and I’ve only been driving constantly (at least five days a week) now at 22. Between insurance, the cost of petrol, etc, it wasn’t worth it, and I wasn’t one of those kids who inherited Mom’s Old Car or got a new car (and finding a job? Took me two years of applying). Not to mention that cops where I lived at the time would stop teens to see if they actually had their licenses.

    With the recession and even less teens having jobs, I imagine the above probably is happening to a lot more teens than usual.

    • dizzy says:

      Yeah, pretty much this.

      I’m 25 and I still don’t have my license. As a teenager, I didn’t have a car – parents couldn’t afford to get me one or get a new one themselves. Since they only had one car and we are/were a four person family, it’s not like I could take theirs out, either.

      I was fine during college, didn’t need a car, and after I graduated I was unemployed and couldn’t have afforded gas or insurance or… you know… the car, haha. Once I was financially okay enough to get one my brother was in college and so we went in on one together and since he has classes during the day, he drops me off at 8 and picks me up at 5.

      I do plan on getting mine soon but basically the economy/financial situation has kept me off the road.

      • 47ka says:

        I’d get your license anyway; car can always come later but it’s handy if you have to go on a trip and rent a vehicle.

    • anyanka323 says:

      I got mine at 16, but never drove much until my last year of college when I needed a car due to my apartment being a distance from the bus route and my parents’ move. My apartment had free parking on the street, which was nice except when it snowed. I had a job to pay for gas and maintenance work on it. I just drove it to get groceries and to see my parents in Michigan. Otherwise, I walked or took the bus most places.

  10. areaman says:

    Perhaps when the auto industry gets back on it’s feet it’ll lobby to have all these barriers dismantled.

    Also, there will be an uptick in used car sales when it’s safe again to lend money to blocks of wood, securitize these loans and then put them into the market.

  11. Murph1908 says:

    They seem to have missed another obvious factor hinted at in their article.

    Fewer teens working means fewer teens driving to work.

    • econobiker says:

      Exactly another great point too. So many jobs once done by teens are being done by either illegal immigrants or adults suffering from the economic times…

      • lihtox says:

        There hasn’t been a surge in illegal immigration, though; in fact, it has slowed since 2005.

        The economy is a much better explanation: more adults have to flip burgers for a living, and the teens get pushed out (or don’t even bother looking, since they don’t have the same motivation to find a job).

  12. ShinGetterPoPo says:

    I’m nearly 30 and trying to find a way to get around without driving.
    Insurance isn’t through the roof for kids alone.

    • smo0 says:

      I’ve been taking the bus since September 2008.

    • brinks says:

      I live in Columbus, OH. If you can find a weekday 9-5 job, the bus is your friend. However, for those of us trapped in retail hell, it sucks. It doesn’t run late enough on weekends or holidays, and you’re screwed if you’re doing a late night floor set (you’ll need a cab or a VERY nice friend). And half the places I’ve gotten an interview for aren’t anywhere NEAR a busline, so I’ve had to turn them down and miss out on a chance to get a decent job that might actually allow me to afford a car.

      • smo0 says:

        I had to take the bus AND walk some distance to a job (sometimes from my house to the busline) but it was well worth it, especially for a job that allowed me to purchase a car….

        If you’re having to walk

        I gave up my car due to some financial hardships after and accident… and just remembering insurance costs, gas price hikes, the car payment and general maintenance… just makes me NOT want one again….. I feel like a rich person without a car… if you could imagine.

  13. Tim says:

    It might have something to do with strict license regulations for young drivers.

  14. MustWarnOthers says:

    Another factor which doesn’t help, on top of Higher Insurance, less jobs, and an overall crappy economy is the absolute BS Inspection laws in some states.

    I live in NY and come from a family who gets dirty and takes care of their own vehicles, instead of bringing it in to a dealer to be ripped off for the easiest of maintenance (this is akin to going to the doctor every time you get a cough or cold).

    In NY, just about anything can keep your car from passing inspection. Good luck if your car is like mid 90’s and has a check engine light. It gets harder and harder as some of the auto companies put in these complicated computer systems to track issues with the car, and the average joe can’t just roll up his sleeves and fix the problem.

    Add to that, the fact that the state inspection prices cost next to nothing (like 10 or 15 dollars) so almost every mechanic in NY is absolutely going to stick you for something else to make it worth your time.

    It’s gotten worse and worse since I was 17 when I got my license. I’m 28 now, and glad I have friends with laptops and the proper diagnostic software (VagCom, Flashpro etc).

    • Draw2much says:

      I dunno… Inspections in the states–most states anyway–are really really easy to pass. And wonderfully cheap. Even when you have to bribe the people involved to pass your car. >_>

      I lived in Japan for 4 years, and every 2 years I had cough up almost $300 just to have the thing inspected. Ugh. They had high standards, and they wouldn’t pass your car if there was even cosmetic damages!

      Some people got around it by taking it to the local mechanic. Sure they cost more, but some how even the crappiest of cars could pass inspection through them. And a lot of times it was just easier to pay for extra inspection cost every 2 years rather than repair whatever was wrong. (Things that in no way affected the vehicles drive ability or lights.)

      So for me, it’s a relief to be in the states. They aren’t as nit-picky and I don’t get charged $300 every 2 yrs. ^^;

    • Jubes says:

      Oh man having friends that have VagCom has saved me SO much money! My regular mechanic for some reason couldn’t communicate with my car but my friend hooked me up in minutes and figured out it was my o2 sensor AND hooked me up with a new one for much much less than I would’ve paid anywhere else. I love having friends that can afford to have stuff like that!

  15. Daverson says:

    My daughter got her learner’s permit when she was 17. She hated driving, and put off getting her license for as long as she could – even going so far as to get a state (non-driver’s) ID card instead of her license.

    She finally took the tests and got her license just before her 21st birthday. She still hates driving. And she is not alone among her friends – many of them still don’t have their driver’s license and are not interested in getting it.

    I don’t know why this seems to be a trend, but it is, and – in our case, anyway – insurance cost wasn’t a factor (our family’s car insurance would only have gone up about $300 a year to add her as a teen driver.)

    • redskull says:

      My nephew’s 18, and his parents say getting him to drive is like pulling teeth– he just has no interest in it.

      • Blueberry Scone says:

        I can think of a few people who are in their 20s who only *just* got their license within the last year or so. The oldest is about 25.

        I wonder why that is? When I was a teen, it seemed like everyone raced to the DMV as soon as they turned 16. It could be that if they have a few friends who have steady access to a car – if they know their friend can always drive and pick them up, having a license isn’t really necessary.

        • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

          Eh, maybe this is that laziness other people are talking about, but I was the poorest in my group of friends when I was 16-17. Everyone else had their licenses, and cars. If I wanted to drive somewhere, it was to hang out with friends…and, uh, they had cars. So I just threw them a few bucks for gas every once in a while and we were square.

  16. Bohemian says:

    $350 for drivers ed. Easily $200 for insurance. Gas hovering near $3 a gallon and many of the used cars that are cheap enough to buy get lousy gas mileage. Our teenager said screw it and moved to where he can bike and use public transit instead.

    • wcnghj says:

      $350?! It’s $500 around here.

    • tbax929 says:

      They don’t do driver’s ed in school anymore? When I was in high school (87-90), it was a required class. I didn’t know anyone who didn’t have a license, even if they had to use Mom and Dad’s car to get around.

  17. RDSwords says:

    All this means is that the responsible ones are off the road, and the careless “rich parents” teens are still running amok.

    • ARP says:

      This. Yes, its a stereotype, but when I was in HS, only the rich kids got cars. Everyone else had to drive our parents’ cars when they weren’t using it.

  18. dg says:

    Just a few off the cuff possibilities:

    * Insurance rates
    * No job for kid to pay for gas, oil, other maint on car along with insurance
    * Vehicle sticker costs for school, parking, etc
    * Parking space costs – meter, garage, etc
    * Driving restrictions – # of people in the car, times, etc
    * Graduated licensing programs that are a PITA to deal with…
    * License plate costs for vehicle…

    Bicycles are free :-)

  19. evnmorlo says:

    Every year legislatures write new laws restricting driving for everyone, and especially the children, while every year they suck off more of the nation’s wealth.

    • smo0 says:

      …. this isn’t a bad thing, honestly. I’m not trying to be cruel either… when I drove, or even in the car with someone else, I took a look around wondering how the hell half of these f*ckers got their license in the first place.

      It’s a privilege, not a right.

  20. shepd says:

    Because it’s a major PITA and doesn’t come with the adult benefits? Where I am, a 16 year old gets to go through this process
    (First 8 months) – Written test, Driver’s Ed classes, No driving without someone over 25, no alcohol, no driving with other teenagers in the car, no night driving
    (Next year or so) – First road test, no alcohol, no driving with other teenagers in the car
    (A year or so after that) – Final road test. No alcohol until you are 21 no matter what.

    So, for most teenagers, the purpose of driving kind of goes away (getting them and their buddies places) and so does the interest. I don’t think it means better drivers, just people learning to drive later and therefore being poorer drivers when they are older. The more stringent tests are helpful to get rid of (or at least make money from) the bad drivers, though.

  21. Paul in SF says:

    So have the number of accidents involving teen drivers dropped as well?

  22. ahecht says:

    I would say the major factor is that 10 years ago, most states allowed teens to get an permit at 14 or 15 and an unrestricted license at 15 or 16 (and a few allowed14.5). These days, 10 states require you to be 16.5 or older just to get a restricted license, and only 4 states let you get an unrestructed license at 16. Of the remaining states, 13 require you to be 16.5, 15 require you to be 17, and 19 states require you to be 18 years old to get an unrestructed license (and a few only will give you an unrestricted license before age 21 if you have a perfect record).

  23. pantheonoutcast says:

    Maybe they’re all home with their X-Boxes and Playstations pretending to drive.

  24. Outrun1986 says:

    Its a bunch of factors combined:

    Teens aren’t getting hired, the traditional teen jobs like retail and fast food, those places just aren’t hiring anymore. Heck I haven’t seen a hiring sign at a retailer in at least 3 years here. Most places won’t hire a person under 18 in my state because of the additional restrictions that come with that, and the fact that there are plenty of 18 and up’s willing to work at the jobs, when the jobs become available. This is probably the biggest one, the typical teen job has essentially gone away here.

    Retailers are keeping the cashiers and stock workers they have, and those people aren’t going anywhere because they can’t get a better job since there are no jobs.

    Car insurance (which was always expensive for teens), and the cost of a vehicle and all the other expenses coming with it. When I first started driving I inherited my mother’s old car and paid .99 a gallon for gas. This was about 10 years ago, not like that anymore and I needed the car to get to and from college so I had no choice. While the insurance hurt, the other expenses were much less than they are now. The cost of a license has also gone up, way up, plus driver’s ed which is mandatory in a lot of states, you can’t just have your parents teach you and walk up and set up an appointment anymore. The couple hundred needed for a driver’s ed class alone might be too much for a family to bear.

    Since teens are constantly in contact via the internet or through cell phones, they feel less of a need to get out there and drive.

    The parents incomes are not what they used to be, not every parent can afford to pay for insurance for a teen and a car for them, especially if one or both parents lost their job or laid off and cannot find another job. You can’t just go out and get another job right away either, it takes time to find one and often you have to settle for lower pay than what you previously had.

  25. jim says:

    adding a teen here can make insurance jump $2k to $5k per year. that is a pretty big hit.

  26. maggiemerc says:

    I was kind of unusual when I had my permit at 14 and my hardship at 15, now I’m like a dodo bird apparently? Crazy town.

  27. smo0 says:

    I got my license without a test, true story… think I mentioned that before too…..

    Also I didn’t start driving til I bought my own car at 23.

  28. Cyniconvention says:

    Because they have nowhere to go? At least I don’t…

  29. WeirdJedi says:

    I managed to slip through all the requirement changes that came to obtaining a driver’s license. Those who followed after me told me of the horrors they had to go through to obtain their license. Anywhere from price changes dependent on your age, needing a permit for some months beforehand, and the exhausting driver’s ed program some had to endure.

    The main reason, which has been touched on, for lack of driving must be because lack of jobs. Most places wouldn’t hire people under 18 just because of the liability that the company holds for minors. Others seem to stop looking publicly all together. Most jobs want you to apply online nowadays. Without jobs, no money. Without money, well, where would you go?

  30. webcaster68 says:

    I couldn’t drive when I was in high school because we were to poor to afford another car. Yet I was still required to work and play sports.

  31. outlulz says:

    I didn’t drive when I was a teen because A. my parents refused to buy me a car and B. no job would hire me because I was under 18 so I couldn’t work to buy one.

  32. JeremieNX says:

    I started driving at the traditional age of 16. At the time I lived in a very rural area where just getting to school was 25 miles each way. A car was also essential if you wanted a job outside of agriculture/retail.

    I live in the city now with a very robust transit system, but it still takes 1 hour and 17 minutes each way to my office. My time is far more valuable than that. Besides, there has been the issue of crime on trains and busses here.

  33. veritybrown says:

    The big factor for my sons is that we can’t afford to add them to our insurance. Car insurance rates for young males are extremely high–just a fact of the risk pool. So until they get their own jobs to pay for the cost of the insurance, they are stuck with just first-stage learner’s permits (licensed adult has to be in the car).

    • OnePumpChump says:

      And I will be DAMNED if I let one red cent of tax money go to public transportation unchallenged, or if I let anyone oppose suburban sprawl projects without being put in their place. Your children must be punished for not getting theirs while the getting was good.

  34. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    and here I thought they were all at home taking care of their babies…

  35. OnePumpChump says:

    I can’t get a girl ’cause I ain’t got a car.
    I can’t get a car ’cause I ain’t got a job.
    I can’t get a job ’cause I ain’t got a car.
    So I’m lookin’ for a girl with a job and a car.

  36. MNGirl says:

    I know for me and my 3 siblings, (age 18, 22, 25, and 27) we didn’t get our permit until we were 18 for 2 reasons, the main reason was my mom would not allow us to get our drivers license until we were 18 because she believed that at 16, you are not responsible enough to drive, and second, if we wanted to get our permit, we had to pay for drivers ed, but (at least in MN) if you wait til you are 18, you don’t have to take drivers ed. And now that I am older, I agree, MOST (not all) teens should not be allowed to drive by themselves, they are typically to immature.

  37. Amy Alkon says:

    “Why Are Fewer Teens Driving These Days?”

    More parents and their children are living out of their cars?

  38. P_Smith says:

    The driving age should be at least 19, preferably 21.

    There shouldn’t be any teenagers with cars.

  39. JonBoy470 says:

    Man, I got my license in NH back in the good old days. No learner’s permit (just get in the car with mom/dad and drive!) and a full license at 16. I see three trends coming together: The i-generation, helicopter parents, and expensive used cars.

    The on-line connected-ness of today’s teens (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) means that there is, perhaps, less impulse, or need, to physically congregate. Loitering ordinances “Get off my lawn” type restrictions and even video games can contribute to teens not feeling the need to travel to visit/hang out.

    Helicopter parenting. Concerned parents (fed by constant media attention of the admittedly real risks involved) have driven adoption of onerous graduated licensing laws. They may keep teens safe, but in so doing infantilize teens and make driving less useful to them. A license that doesn’t let you drive by yourself, or at night, or with anyone your own age in the car is almost completely pointless. Parents of today’s teens, I suspect, are much more willing to put up with the inconvenience of carting their kids all over creation, as opposed to “risking” letting them drive themselves.

    Used cars have appreciated in value significantly in recent years. When I was in school in the 90’s, it was trivial to get an 80’s vintage used car for $500-1000. Today, new car sales are in the toilet due to the economy, leading to fewer trade-in’s. Supply is further constrained by widespread emissions testing. Many older cars are scrapped, despite still being mechanically sound, because it is not economical to repair their failed emission controls. The result is that decade old cars now cost several thousand dollars, just because they run, and are inspectable. The lack of jobs is definitely directly hurting teens’ financial ability to drive, because no one will hire them to get the “buy a car to go to work so I can afford the car” cycle going.

  40. vesey says:

    Whatever the reason, i’m just glad fewer teens are driving. Three times over the 46 years i’ve been driving i was the victim of a stupid driver. You guessed it , they were all teens. In two of those cases the parents were paying the teens insurance and in each case i imagine(don’t know for sure) they stopped paying it after it went up because their kids caused accidents. Most people mentioning high insurance costs for teens probably have never experienced what i have . It’s high because of the high frequency of poor driving amongst teens. The trend toward tighter restrictions on teen driving seen as draconian by some also is a reaction to the frequency of teen driving abuses. It’s not a conspiracy to makes teens lives miserable it is simply self preservation…………

  41. INsano says:

    Why are fewer teens driving?

    Gee I wonder. Almost like their strapped parents can’t take out a 3rd mortgage or a HELOC to pay for a car their spoiled kid doesn’t need.

  42. SugarCubesAndHandcuffs says:

    Mkay, I’m going to be the grouch. I don’t really care what the reason behind fewer teens on the road… it just makes me happy that there are, in fact, fewer. I really believe no state should allow anyone under the age of 18 to operate a vehicle. Sorry, kids… If you wreck, yes, mommy and daddy will be the ones who can get sued. Which, I’m aware, is a personal parental decision. But if you kill someone through your negligence… Fuck you. You should NOT get a slap on the wrist because you’re a kid. Fact of the matter is your brain is not finished developing yet, specifically the part that deals with consequences. Your underdeveloped mind does not need to be taking control of 3 tons of steel flying down the freeway at 80 mph.

  43. GarishCupcake says:

    One reason that there might be fewer teen drivers in Colorado during 2004-2008 was during that time Colorado drastically changed the requirements for getting a driver’s license. Previously you only had to do X amount of practice time in a car with a licensed driver who was willing to sign for you at the DMV and have a learner’s permit for 6 months prior to getting your license. Now I believe the laws are something along of the lines of 30 hours of state-regulated driver’s ed, can only drive with passengers over the age of 21, and there is a curfew. How is that worth it at all for a teen to drive, especially considering how lazy some teens can be?

    My only concern is how much of a difference is it going to make for those teens that put off driving for a few years? Are they suddenly going to become smarter/better drivers because they are a little older?

    My final comment is I have been in 3 major accidents in my life (all while I was the age of 16-24), all involving someone over the age of 60 who hit me (by running a stop sign or red light, making a wrong turn into traffic).

  44. Snakeophelia says:

    I didn’t have a choice but to learn how to drive, back in the 80’s! My mom announced that I WOULD have a part-time job when I turned 16 and if I wanted to do that and marching band, she was not going to be driving me around to do it. She arranged for driving lessons, gave me their broke-down 1977 Toyota Corolla, and then called every under-16 friend who lived near me and stated that I would be their chauffeur, if they would pay for gas.

    If she hadn’t been so determined, I would have taken a lot longer to get behind the wheel. But with her “Sink or Swim” approach, I became a pretty good driver pretty quickly.

  45. peebozi says:

    14.5 Years of age gets you a restricted license in Idaho.

    I was driving at 14.5 too…only in a state that “mandated” an age of 16 before driving…somehow the car still started when I put the key in and turned it.

  46. gparlett says:

    Wow… okay I don’t think you should be able to call yourself a teenager if you don’t have a car. What’s being a teenager about if it’s not about driving around in a beater car with your friends?

  47. backinpgh says:

    Between kids not being able to find jobs to subsidize their car costs (payments, or saving up for a car, gas, insurance, maintenance), and PARENTS also not being able to find jobs to cover those costs, or simply reigning in expenses by telling their kids they aren’t getting a car, I think teens won’t be driving as much for a few years to come.

  48. mxmora says:

    My son (17) has no interest in driving. He uses his mother as a personal taxi service and tends to stay home more than wanting to go out. Video games, youtube and playing music occupy his time more than needing to go anywhere.

    He said he will wait until he is 18 then just go take the test. Since he does not have a car, he does not need a job.

  49. damageddude says:

    I lived in NYC when I turned 16 (living in the outer boroughs, which are like dense suburbs in other parts of the country). At the time, the restrictions for 16 year old drivers were so onerous that there was just no reason to get my license until I turned 17. These days those type of restrictions are in place in many states for drivers under 18 (no driving at night, no friends in the car, put a sticker on your plate identifying you as a teen driver etc). Add in the high cost of insurance and some teens are probably figuring they may as well wait until they turn 18.

  50. JonBoy470 says:

    One thought that pops to mind regarding these graduated licensing schemes. The goal seems to be a combination of “easing kids into” driving, combined with a dose of making it such a pain that many kids, apparently, just put off getting their licenses till they’re older, which is probably just as good, in the eyes of these laws’ supporters.

    The problem is, high accident rates amongst teens have two root causes. Yes, something about the hormones renders teens functionally stupid, even the “smart” ones. Inexperience behind the wheel is also a big contributor though, and that factor is age independent. We could raise the age to 40 and new drivers would still have more accidents.

    These licensing schemes could actually be doing harm in the case of kids who wait until they’re 18. They’re still inexperienced like the 16 year olds, but don’t “benefit” from the “ease into driving” restrictions, or even formal driver education, in many cases.

  51. Dethzilla says:

    I thought it was because most of them died in car accidents.

  52. CapitalC says:

    I know why!

    Two dumbass teens had their vehicle impounded in front of my home at 4:37am today. I’m not sure why (maybe intoxicated, maybe it was stolen), but not exactly the kind of thing I normally see in my sleepy suburbia, but regardless, that’s another teen not driving!