For years we’ve been passing laws to make it safer for teen drivers. In Maryland, we have a graduated licensing system that sets curfews and other restrictions on provisional drivers. We’ve raised the age when kids can get a driver’s license to 16 and 6 months.
But ironically, it seems many kids aren’t that bothered about driving anyway. A new study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute is the latest to report a steady decline in the percentage of teens getting their driver’s licenses.
In 1983, nearly half of 16 year olds and 70 percent of 17 year olds had their licenses. Today, less than 30 percent of 16 year olds and only about 45 percent of 17 year olds have driver’s licenses.
The researchers say the economy and rising gas prices are partly to blame. But they also note the effect of the Internet and cell phones. With Facebook, text messaging, Skype and other ways of instantly communicating, kids don’t have to drive to get together.