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Fewer Teens Going for a Driver’s License

Makers struggle to appeal to the smartphone generation.

by on Jul.27, 2012

Teens appear to be more interested in texting than driving, according to a new study.

Nearly a third of American 19-year-olds haven’t bothered to get a driver’s license, according to a new study, continuing a downward trend that finds fewer and fewer Millennials plugging into the American car culture.

Instead, suggest researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, (UMTRI), young people are substituting e-mail and text messaging for the traditional forms of socializing that would have required them to get a set of wheels to stay in contact with friends and family.

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“Virtual contact reduces the need for actual contact,” suggested Michael Sivak, co-author of the new UMTRI study.  “We found that the percentage of young drivers was inversely related to the availability of the Internet.”

The report is the latest in a series showing a steady decline in the number of teens getting their licenses. In 1983, only 12.7% of those aged 19 skipped that traditional rite of passage in the U.S.   But the figure had nearly doubled, to 24.5% by 2008.  The latest study looked at U.S. Census and Federal Highway Administration data to determine that in 2010 a full 30.5% of 19-year-olds didn’t yet have a license.


A Third of Young Drivers Texting Behind the Wheel

“Deadly epidemic,” says DOT chief LaHood.

by on Mar.07, 2011

Nearly a third of drivers under 30 text while behind the wheel, reveals a new study.

America is facing a “deadly epidemic,” as more and more young people text or use cellphones while driving, warns Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

A new study, conducted by the Department of Transportation and Consumer Reports magazine, reveals that 30% of those under the age of 30 admit testing while behind the wheel.  And 63% acknowledge they’ve used hand-held cellphones.

By comparison, researchers found just 9% of drivers over 30 admitting to texting, and 41% saying they’ve used hand-held phones while behind the wheel.

Significantly, about a third of the young drivers said they don’t consider such activities to be dangerous.

That flies in the face of evidence showing that distracted driving accidents are responsible for 5,500 deaths on U.S. roadways each year, according to federal data.

“Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on America’s roads,” says LaHood, “and teens are especially vulnerable because of their inexperience behind the wheel and, often, peer pressure.”

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Significantly, federal statistics also reveal that crashes are the leading cause of death for teens – who are about three times more likely to be involved in fatal collisions than older motorists.

A driver texting, meanwhile, is considered 23 times more likely to have a collision.