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.
“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.