Recently I saw a statistic about teens and driving that surprised me.
It appears the majority of teenagers in the U.S. are delaying getting a driver’s license. A recent study found a significant drop in the number of young people licensed to drive by the time they are 18.
Twenty years ago, two-thirds of teens had their license before age 18. More recently that number has dropped to just over half.
What a change from the day when for nearly every teen, getting that coveted learner’s permit, or the actual license, was like a teen rite-of-passage. So what’s happening?
Those who track such statistics are noticing a distinct shift in the sense of urgency.
Why The Shift?
So why the shift? Below are a few reasons given in the study:
- 44 percent – Did not have a car
- 39 percent – Could get around without driving
- 36 percent – Gas was too expensive
- 36 percent – Driving was too expensive
- 35 percent – “Just didn’t get around to it”
Lack of Driver’s Education
This one isn’t listed in this particular study, but fewer and fewer high schools are offering classes for driver’s education. Some families are unable to pay for driver’s schools outside the high school curriculum. Without that education, the student is unable to meet the graduated driver’s license (GDL) laws that apply in nearly every state.
In spite of all these studies and statistics, I don’t think the “delay” memo has reached the youth in the Midwest where I live. Most students are still over-the-top excited to have that coveted “freedom card” known as a driver’s license.
Here in this vicinity where clusters of small towns prevail, public transportation is practically unheard of. Plus, parents are oftentimes eager for that teen to be able to drive to cut down on the constant, unending parent/chauffeur duty.
The Cause for Concern
Those who delay are waiting until they are 18, at which time most of the GDL stipulations no longer apply. They can simply take the test and obtain a license. This, obviously, is where the concern comes in, because it means new drivers on the road, all of whom are untrained. Untrained young drivers (statistics show) are among the most dangerous drivers. Not good.
What’s Your Take?
So how about you as a teen? What’s the consensus among your friends? Are they waiting till age 18? Are you waiting? Or is everyone still excited to get a learner’s permit, and their key to freedom, ASAP?
Teen drivers play integral roles in several of the novels that I’ve authored. We’ll take a look at them in Part II.
My newest release, Brought To You By The Color Drab, is a story that has A LOT to do with a teen driver. A teen who is almost FORCED to drive!
You can read the first two chapters right here. Just click below.