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Study: Number Of Young Drivers On Big Decline

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On: Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 3:24PM | By: Chris Weiss


Study: Number Of Young Drivers On Big Decline

Many recent studies have demonstrated an ambivalence to driving among teens and young adults - something that was almost unheard of 10 or 20 years ago. The latest study from the University of Michigan shows that the number of young drivers has been on decline over the past 25 years.

According to the study's findings, the percentage of 16 to 39 year olds with driver's licenses dropped markedly between 1983 and 2008. The sharpest drop-off was observed in the youngest part of that demographic. For instance, the percentage of 17 year-olds with licenses was about 50 percent in 2008, compared to 69 percent in 1983. Among 20 to 24 year-olds, 82 percent had licenses in 2008, 92 percent in 1983. There was even a 3.2 percent drop in licenses among 35 to 39 year-olds.

The study doesn't attempt to identify the reason for the decreasing number of young drivers, but a few obvious factors come to mind. During the study period, the Internet rose from non-existence to the major social force it is today, giving young adults an alternative means for socializing with friends. Similarly, cell phones have become common among young adults. There simply isn't as much reason to drive as there was in the early 80s. In fact, a study by Gartner last year showed that nearly half of young adults ages 18 to 24 value Internet access over a vehicle.

The rising cost of gas and a tough economy have also undoubtedly caused some young adults to rethink their transportation priorities, eschewing car ownership and relying on public transportation or bikes, when possible. Working hand in hand with those restructured transportation priorities has been a migration of young adults into cities, according to Michael Sivak, co-author of the study. Large cities tend to have better public transportation than more rural areas.

So if you're expecting your son or daughter to drive you around when you get older, you might want to figure out a back-up plan.




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