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Sun Nov 25, 2012, 09:18 AM

Young People Are Driving Less—And Not Just Because They're Broke


from GOOD:


Young People Are Driving Less—And Not Just Because They're Broke




As a teenager, I had little interest in driving. I lived in Prince George’s County, Maryland, mere blocks from the D.C. city line, with a bus hub down the hill and three Metro stations a mile or so from my parents’ house. And by the time my weekend evenings were done, I was rarely in any shape to get behind the wheel. (Sorry, Mom!)

I never got my driver’s license, which makes me an outlier in a nation of car lovers. But I have something in common with today’s teens. Recent studies show that American teenagers are far less likely to have their drivers’ licenses than their counterparts thirty years ago, and the trend continues to a lessening degree through the 20-something cohort. Today only 22 percent of drivers are under 30, down from a third in 1983.

As a result of decades of car-oriented land use policy, private automobiles are a necessity for many Americans. Even most urban areas of the Sunbelt—Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles—are barely traversable by foot, bike or train. Despite this reality, Americans seem to be driving less and returning to cities with a diversity of transit options. (I’ve chosen Philadelphia: We still have trolleys!) Young people, especially, are waiting longer to buy cars, and we’re driving less once we get them. Are norms are changing, or is it just the tough economy? Business Insider posits a strong link between this data and the recession: As unemployment goes up, Americans drive less—because many of them suddenly don’t have work to drive to, or because they simply can’t afford to maintain a car.

But it's not as simple as that. “For a very long time, the number of vehicle miles traveled has followed economic trends,” says Angie Schmitt, manager of the Streetsblog network. Yet the past few years have defied that logic: “As the economy has picked up speed a little bit in the last couple years, we haven’t seen vehicle miles traveled pick up.” .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://ht.ly/fswbs



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Arrow 19 replies Author Time Post
Reply Young People Are Driving Less—And Not Just Because They're Broke (Original post)
marmar Nov 2012 OP
steve2470 Nov 2012 #1
Eleanors38 Nov 2012 #7
Phentex Nov 2012 #11
Iggy Nov 2012 #2
hobbit709 Nov 2012 #3
GoCubsGo Nov 2012 #6
marlakay Nov 2012 #14
GoCubsGo Nov 2012 #17
marlakay Nov 2012 #18
KharmaTrain Nov 2012 #4
BeyondGeography Nov 2012 #5
JCMach1 Nov 2012 #8
Viva_La_Revolution Nov 2012 #9
nadinbrzezinski Nov 2012 #10
laundry_queen Nov 2012 #12
loli phabay Nov 2012 #13
CBHagman Nov 2012 #15
Tsiyu Nov 2012 #16
jpak Nov 2012 #19

Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 09:24 AM

1. My 16 year old son was not eager to his driver's license

I've heard (only anecdoctally) that facebook, twitter and cell phones are partially responsible for this. Not to mention gasoline prices well above $4 a gallon in some areas.

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Response to steve2470 (Reply #1)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 10:01 AM

7. I think you're right about social medias' "substitute" for physical mobility...

Another aspect: Researchers in Italy found not only less interest in driving, but among those who want cars, the deciding factors are not horsepower, handling or prestige, but instead communication gadgetry. It's showing up in U.S. ads as well.

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Response to steve2470 (Reply #1)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 11:01 AM

11. I've been hearing a lot about this and it's true for my son...

he can "see" his friends online through skype or playing games so there's less of a need to get together to play video games. He doesn't have a car of his own so coordinating the use of ours can be too much trouble for someone who's fairly lazy in the first place.

Other parents have told me the same thing about their kids. Some of the ones eligible to drive don't even have their licenses yet. They seem to be in no rush.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 09:25 AM

2. Let me know when old people

 

start driving less. that will be good news indeed.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 09:25 AM

3. all depends on where you're at.

If you live some place where the closest thing to public transportation is the Greyhound station-and that's 5 miles away, you're SOL.

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Response to hobbit709 (Reply #3)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 09:46 AM

6. Yep. Tell me about it.

I would love to not have to drive. I never liked it, but I hate it more than ever now. Not only do we have no public transportation system, but Driver's Ed is not required here. And, it shows. BIG TIME. Somebody upthread complained about old people driving. They are pretty bad here, too. But, no worse than the teen drivers, the young adult drivers, or the middle-age drivers. It has gotten WAY worse with the invention of cell phones. You can't walk or cycle safely here, either. I wish I could find a way out of this craphole where I live.

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Response to GoCubsGo (Reply #6)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 11:06 AM

14. I live rurally in mountains

3 hours from Seattle or Spokane. I find you do what you can. I bought a scooter 7 years ago to do all my summer local errands and drive to work. And we take Amtrak to Seattle when we can.

I think if everyone did just a few things it would add up.

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Response to marlakay (Reply #14)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 11:24 AM

17. You are lucky you can ride a scooter.

I live in a town of 20,000. Thanks to unrestricted, haphazard development, the roads here are not built for scooters or bicycles. People ride them. But, those people are constantly getting hit by cars and trucks. The drivers around here don't even pay attention to the rules of the road, let alone people who are using forms of transportation that are not cars or trucks. I wouldn't even feel safe on a motorcycle, which can keep up with the traffic speed, unlike a scooter or bicycle.

If I wanted to ride Amtrak, I would have to drive 60 miles to the nearest depot.

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Response to GoCubsGo (Reply #17)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 11:40 AM

18. Sorry you can't

My town is only 2,000 but fills to 20 or 30K because of festivals throughout the whole year. I live in Bavarian tourist town.

The roads are pretty quiet when no festivals. But I can imagine as I moved from the city where it would be more dangerous.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 09:35 AM

4. Influence Of The Insurance Companies...

Back in the stoned ages when I got my license, all I had to do was take 6 weeks of classroom and behind the wheel and got my license on my 16th birthday. There were no restrictions, other than curfew (and my parents) and a lot of young people died in accidents as we all thought we were invincible behind the wheel. Over time the sad toll of little crosses along our roadways meant both government and insurance companies making it more difficult for young people to get licenses.

When my kids went for their license, state law required 30 hours of supervised driving and once they got their licenses they were limited to the number of people they could drive with...as well as constantly rising insurance premiums. Even with good grades adding a teen to one's insurance policy (mandated in many states) is now a luxury fewer and fewer can afford.

The overall cost of driving is forcing people either to drive less or find alternative means of transportation...

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 09:42 AM

5. Let's hear it for the kids

The PIRG researchers concluded that this change couldn’t simply be pegged to the economy, but indicates a value shift. Perhaps Millennials have soured not only on the price of cars, gasoline, and upkeep—but also on the hassles of parking, the drudgery of traffic, and the negative effect cars have on urban life, air quality, and personal wellbeing. Or as Michael Hagerty, an auto journalist, wrote for AlterNet last month, many Millennials are “just plain sick of after spending 16 to 20 years with Suburbans strapped to their asses several hours a day.”

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 10:24 AM

8. My daughters go to the same HS I did as a kid

One big change is: an empty parking lot.

However, a big part of it is cost. Most of her peers don't have jobs (most did when I was a kid). Add to that the cost of a car, gas, and insurance and there is an empty lot where once it was full in 1985.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 10:53 AM

9. I have 3 sons over 21, 2 don't drive yet

Middle one is getting his, just so he knows how, not planning to actually buy a car.
Youngest one would be happy never getting his, but will probably change his mind in a few years.

The oldest always hated waiting for the bus, so he got his license at 18. Now his car payment/insurance is almost as much as his rent.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 10:57 AM

10. I use transit when I can as well

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 11:04 AM

12. I see this a lot too

I live in the same small town that I did when I was a teen. My teen daughter is old enough to get a learner's permit, but isn't as interested in it as I was. Neither are her friends. This despite the fact that we live in an area that is a suburb with little bus service (the bus goes into the city 2 times/day, M-F, where you can then hook up with the city's bus service). There was no bus service when I was growing up, and this bus service is new - like within the last few months. I have no doubt it's because there is a growing demand from young people who don't want to drive. It's not an economic thing here, as I live in an area that is booming and most teens have jobs if they want one. I think part of what plays into it is parents here are more likely to drive their kids around. When I was a teen, asking my parents for a ride was like pulling teeth, same with my friends. Parents now seem to be more engaged and likely to say yes to a ride, which makes owning a car less attractive when you already get rides for free.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 11:06 AM

13. i think there is an urban and rural thing going as well

 

Out here in the boonies everyone drives or your stuck at home.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 11:08 AM

15. The U.S. needs to look at the big picture.

To me, the big picture means taking care of existing infrastructure but also considering the environment, the aging of the population, creating livable communities, etc. We need to look to alternatives to "Okay, everyone, get into your car and drive!"

I was horrified to learn how few Americans carpool or take public transport to work. Planning and convenience plan a role, of course, but we need to look at those very things, plus consider demographic changes (a rapidly growing older segment of the population, for instance), in improving the transportation system.

And to those senators and representatives who vote against public transport because their constituents don't see the use of it, consider that a single urban area can have more than twice as many people as your entire state.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 11:23 AM

16. The insurance rates are one of the number one reasons I think

They are quite cost-prohibitive in an economy where wages have gone to the basement.

Another factor in some areas is the War on Drugs ( and young people. )

For example, Franklin County, Tennessee, with the help of the University of the South, is KNOWN for eating poor and middle class young people alive legally. A lot of parents are moving away from Franklin County because their kids have become - in my opinion - merely fodder to keep an overblown, un-American Police State going.

They have so many clerks, cops and county employees, they HAVE to regularly arrest kids to keep everybody paid. And the DA appears to HATE poor kids - he's put so many away it's sickening.

Once a kid is driving, he or she is just one more mark for unscrupulous cops, unethical lawyers, incompetent public defenders and judges who just process kids through like court is a goddamned sausage factory.

Kids are smart. They see their friends lose everything for one traffic stop, so they're laying low. The for-profit prison industry has changed the game for our kids, and we should all be ashamed.







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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 12:06 PM

19. This is why the GOP pushes so hard for voter ID

yup

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