When I was all of 15 years and three months old, I made a call to the Department of Motor Vehicles, my voice still evolving in that awkward post-pubescent not-yet-a-man-but-I-ain’t-no-kid voice, to proudly make an appointment for 8:00 am the day of my 16th birthday. And I wasn’t alone. Apparently, that’s what kids do. Or did, as a new study cited in the Sun Times suggests.
According to the study, 46 percent of 16-year-olds had a license in 1983, and that number dropped to just 31 percent in 2008. The same was true for 17- and 18-year-olds. In fact, if you’re under 30, you’re less likely to be in possession of a license than just a couple decades ago.
Co-author of the study Michael Sivak says the internet may be a big part of the reason. “Virtual contact through electronic means reduces the need for actual contact,” said Sivak, and added jokingly, “my favorite characterization of the social-media explanation is that ‘driving interferes with texting.’ ”
Last week, we reported that automakers find they don’t build kids they way they used to, and while increased contact through social media and other electronic means could play a role, Sivak says preserving the environment, the recent economic downturn, and the migration of younger people to urban areas where good public transit is available, are all factors as well. It’s still important to note that while the number of teens getting driver licenses is down, the majority of 17- and 18-year-olds are still getting them, motivated by the same decades-old aspirations of freedom that come with driving.
Source: Sun Times