You’re sitting in the passenger seat of your mom’s car waiting for her to take you to your best friend’s house. You’re fifteen and a half. This means you can get your driver’s permit and soon you can get your driver’s license. Your friend just turned sixteen and got her license, but her parents can’t afford to buy her a car, not to mention put her on their auto insurance and pay for gas.
Everybody drives, right? It’s the next step … Or is it? You think to yourself, “I don’t really need my driver’s license. My school is five minutes away and all of my friends live nearby. My parents probably won’t even get me a car, and I’m pretty sure car insurance is really expensive. How would I pay for gas?”
So, you decide to wait.
Nowadays, the decision to wait to get a driver’s license is becoming more and more common for teens. Sixteen-year-old drivers are becoming an anomaly, and more people are waiting until they are eighteen, nineteen, or even in their twenties before taking a driver’s test. Shockingly, the percentage of high school seniors with a license fell from 85% in 1996 to 73% in 2010.
The recession most likely decreased the number of teens obtaining their driver’s licenses, as the cost of cars, gas, and auto insurance increased, along with the rise in teen unemployment. According to 37% of teens, owning and maintaining a vehicle is just too expensive.
In fact, teens in families with higher incomes are much more likely to get their licenses than those in low-income families. Most likely, those parents are able to afford purchasing a vehicle for their teens and adding them to their auto insurance cost while also providing gas money.
About 31% of teens prefer to rely on their parents who are willing to drive them to school, to practice, and to hang out with their friends. Today, parents don’t mind driving their teens around, especially when it means their sixteen-year-olds aren’t driving on dangerous highways with little experience.
This new generation of teens is different. Getting into college and keeping up with social media are higher priorities than getting a driver’s license. As many as 37% of teens say they are too busy and don’t have the time to get a driver’s license.
Instead of stressing out about paying for a car, gas, auto insurance and college parking passes, teens are increasingly relying on other transportation and breaking out of the stereotype that young people are rushing to get onto the open road.
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