Study: Teens in No Rush to Get Behind the Wheel

A teenage rite of passage may be losing its allure among young people. According to a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, teens are in no hurry to get their driver's licenses.

In 1983, 46% of 16-year-olds in the U.S. had their licenses, but only 31% did in 2008, the study says. It's not just 16- year-olds, either. In 1983, 80% of 18-year-olds had their licenses, but that number fell to 65% in 2008. 

The rise of public transportation options, especially in large cities, has likely contributed to the delay, the study says. High gas prices are a deterrent, too. According to the study, the national average cost of a gallon of gas was $1.24 in 1983; it rose to $3.27 in 2008.

But there could be another reason: the internet. The study found that social media sites are making it easier for teens to connect and interact with their friends.

"It is possible that the availability of virtual contact through electronic means reduces the need for actual contact among young people. Furthermore, some young people feel that driving interferes with texting and other electronic communication," UMTRI research professor Michael Sivak said in a press release.

Who needs wheels when there's Facebook and Twitter?

By Jennifer Geiger | January 23, 2012 | Comments (11)



Facebook, Twitter and texting are causing you people to loose their social skills.


high gas prices and ridiculous insurance costs more than anything else for me.


I'm 21 and got my license as soon as I possibly could (half-way through age 16). I love driving all I can, regardless of "high gas prices or insurance costs" (which are actually low insurance costs for me--Thank you Buick Park Avenue and being on my father's insurance plan!)


I'm 22, and I spend as much time as I can behind the wheel of my Volvo 740... Despite the high fuel prices, I love my car, and I love driving... Kids these days just don't know what it's like to hit the open road and disconnect for a while.


Duh! Driver's Ed used to be offered in school and the district subsidized the cost. Now you have to attend a private driving school and pay much higher costs!

mickey the mick

My family was kicked to the curb in 2008, and we could not afford the insurance for a new driver. It's ridiculously expensive.


It probably has as much to do with teen unemployment. Now that Dad is working at the fast food joint, the kids don't have any job to get to let alone any money for a car. The age old question of how to get a job without a car and how to get a car without a job has been answered. You get neither and tweet.


it could be that all of these 'studies' proclaiming to tell what american (insert group here) want/think/do based on some undefined, unqualified sampling of people are complete bullshit.


It's a cost thing. Can't afford to drive on those 2-3 crappy minimum wage jobs alone a week.


For our family it was a safety issue. We felt that 16 year olds are not capable of appropriate decision making skills that are required for driving. We told our daughter that she would not be able to start learning to drive until at least 17, and she was OK with that. Then due to some family health (and other) issues, that got delayed. She ultimately got her license at 19, and is a very careful, thoughtful, safe driver.


I Love Idaho cause I had my license at 15! YA BOI!!!

But it was so odd that in HS I was the only one in my friend circle that could/wanted to drive.

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