By Jennifer Geiger on January 23, 2012
A teenage rite of passage may be losing its allure among young people. According to a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, teens are in no hurry to get their driver's licenses.
In 1983, 46% of 16-year-olds in the U.S. had their licenses, but only 31% did in 2008, the study says. It's not just 16- year-olds, either. In 1983, 80% of 18-year-olds had their licenses, but that number fell to 65% in 2008.
The rise of public transportation options, especially in large cities, has likely contributed to the delay, the study says. High gas prices are a deterrent, too. According to the study, the national average cost of a gallon of gas was $1.24 in 1983; it rose to $3.27 in 2008.
But there could be another reason: the internet. The study found that social media sites are making it easier for teens to connect and interact with their friends.
"It is possible that the availability of virtual contact through electronic means reduces the need for actual contact among young people. Furthermore, some young people feel that driving interferes with texting and other electronic communication," UMTRI research professor Michael Sivak said in a press release.
Who needs wheels when there's Facebook and Twitter?
Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Geiger is a reviewer, car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats, many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer