Driving Losing Its Cool with Young Americans


traffic & driving losing its cool

When I was a teenager in Southwest Florida, it seemed pretty much like a given that having a car was cool. And you needed a car to be cool. But a more wise (perhaps?) or just different culture of young people is turning away from its odd infatuation with the car.

“In 2008, just 31 percent of American 16-year-olds had their driver’s licenses, down from 46 percent in 1983, according to a new study in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention,” Lisa Hymas of Grist writes.

“The numbers were down for 18-year-olds too, from 80 percent in 1983 to 65 percent in 2008, and the percentage of twenty- and thirtysomethings with driver’s licenses fell as well. And even those with driver’s licenses are trying to drive less; a new survey by car-sharing company Zipcar found that more than half of drivers under the age of 44 are making efforts to reduce the time they spend packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes.”

Some of the cited (projected) reasons:

  • the economy being down (driving is expensive, and for what?)
  • more traffic congestion (driving just ain’t fun)
  • tighter restrictions being put on teenage drivers in some states
  • more freedom and flexibility to communicate on the internet and via cell phones or smart phones (and the inability to do so while driving)
  • more interest in urban living than suburban living

And, when it comes down to it, there are a lot of things more worth the tens of thousands of dollars drivers spend for being tied to an automobile.

“You can buy a lot of gadgets for just a fraction of the $8,500 the average American spends each year to maintain a car, not to mention the average cost of buying the car in the first place — more than $29,000 for a new car, or more than $18,000 for a used one.”

Plus, let’s not forget, driving is horrible for the environment, and the youth of today care about the environment they’ll live in today more than anyone else.

Traffic jam via shutterstock

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