Is the Driver's License Losing Its Draw?12:22 PM
Photo by Rusty Clark
Do you remember when you turned 16? Chances are you counted down the days until your birthday so you could finally get your driver’s license. You were ecstatic to finally have independence from your parents and make your first big step into adulthood. However, it seems like teens today just don’t have this same urgency when it comes to getting their licenses. In fact, USA Today reports that only 73% of high school seniors had their license in 2010, compared to 85% in 1996.
Why the dramatic decrease?
There are many reasons that teenagers today don’t have the same desire to become drivers as you did when you were growing up:
- They don’t have to. Bottom line, if they don’t have a need to get a license, they probably won’t put forth the effort. If they can get rides from their parents or friends, why not just stay a passenger for as long as possible? A lot of teens will also just walk or bike where they need to go, so the cutback in licenses definitely isn’t due to laziness.
- It’s too expensive. With the entire country still recovering from a recession, it’s no surprise that the cost of driving is a big contributing factor. Whether it is the increased insurance premium or the gas needed to get from point A to point B, a lot of parents simply can’t afford for their teens to drive. And if the teens are made responsible for the expenses, the cost of the privilege is not worth the benefits for many of them.
- They are too busy. For some reason, teenagers just don’t feel like they have the time to get a license. However, it really just comes down to not making it a priority. You had the same amount of homework, and maybe even a job, when you were a teen and you still found a way. If the desire isn’t there, the driving practice needed to get a license takes a back seat to homework and socializing.
- It’s not essential. With the Internet at their fingertips, teens just don’t feel as much of a need to get out. Many of them are perfectly content socializing online, and many of them even do their shopping that way. If they aren’t leaving the house, they surely don’t need a car.
Sure, having your teenager drive is definitely a nice relief from being the go-to taxi driver for all of your teenager’s activities. However, it is important to remember that car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and drivers ages 16-19 are three times as likely to get into a fatal car crash as drivers over age 20, according to the CDC. With this in mind, it seems like teenager’s new laid-back attitude to getting their licenses may actually be a blessing in disguise. Inconvenient? Absolutely. But if it means your kid doesn’t get into a serious accident, it’s definitely worth the sacrifice.
If your teen does decide to get his or her driver’s license, it is important for the parents to be involved in the teen driver’s education process, including sharing real-life driving knowledge and observing and critiquing their teen’s behind-the-wheel driving efforts.