You thought it strange that Japanese young adults are losing interest in sex? How about American teenagers who are losing interest in driving? Only half of teenagers have a driver’s license by the time they are 18. Twenty years ago two-thirds did.
After the jump, a report on the phenomenon. The study cited, sponsored by the automobile industry, blames the economy and expresses the hope that teenagers will want to drive again once the economy improves. But I’m not sure that’s what the data shows.
The report cited the work of Michael Sivak, a University of Michigan researcher who has played a central role in documenting trends among young drivers. In a 2012 report, he wrote, “It is possible that the availability of virtual contact through electronic means reduces the need for actual contact among young people.”
The institute report, however, underscores a survey Sivak did this year that found that only 3 percent of 18 and 19 year olds said that virtual contact was the main reason they didn’t drive. Thirty-eight percent said they were too busy to get a license, and 17 percent said driving was too expensive.
Sivak said this week that his survey produced another important finding about those 18 to 39 years old.
“When we asked, ‘When do you plan to get a driver’s license?’ 21.5 percent indicated that they will never get a license,” Sivak said. “So for a substantial percentage of young adults without a license, this is not just a postponement of getting a license, but a permanent decision that reflects major societal changes.”
Too busy to get a license?