Getting your driver’s license used to be synonymous with freedom, independence, or fun for most American teenagers. That may no longer be the case, The Arizona Republic reports.
According to new research, transportation statistics, and U.S. census data, fewer young people are getting behind the wheel than in the past. Per capita driving peaked in 2004, and has since been in decline with young people leading the way.
According to data compiled by the U.S. Transportation Department, the average number of miles driven by people younger than 35 fell by nearly 25 percent over the past decade. In addition, new government data shows that one in four young people in the U.S. doesn’t have a driver’s license, up from one in five.
Arizona is no exception. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, while the population of teenagers in the state grew, the number of driver’s licenses has decreased since 2008. At the same time, 17 percent more teenagers were issued photo ID cards in lieu of a driver’s license.
Many commentators attribute the shift to advances in technology. Teenagers are comfortable socializing or working on projects online on Skype rather than in person. There also seems to have been a shift in priorities, as many young people reject the commuter lifestyle. Economic forces are also at play, as many young people were disproportionately put out of work by the recession.
Besides the positive effects on the environment, fewer young people on the road may also be a plus for driver safety. Nearly one-third of all deaths of people 15 to 20 years old are the result of motor vehicle crashes. Around 35 percent of those deaths are alcohol related. Many states, including Arizona, have zero-tolerance policies for underage drivers, meaning driving with any alcohol in your system at all can result in a DUI charge.
Hopefully, fewer young people driving will translate to fewer teen accidents and underage DUIs.
- Find a Phoenix DUI Attorney (FindLaw)
- Fewer Teens Have Driver’s Licenses (Slate)
- Arizona DUI Laws (FindLaw)
- Parents: Combat Underage Drinking During Driver Safety Week (FindLaw’s Phoenix DUI Blog)