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Recent significant decline seen in teen drivers


Recently, there has been a large decline in teen drivers. Credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press
Recently, there has been a large decline in teen drivers. Credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press

Today, teens are waiting to obtain their drivers license, unlike the teens of the previous generation who hustled to Drivers Ed class when they reached the appropriate age. It is said that this generation is maturing faster, but if that saying is indeed true, why are teenagers waiting to earn their drivers license, their ticket to freedom and maturity?


“[I haven’t gotten my driver’s license] because I am quite lazy. I basically have a ride for everywhere I go,” senior Chandler Vu said.

Vu is not the only teenager with this attitude about driving. Many teens across the U.S. are feeling the same way due to the many new restrictions and requirements set by states for teen driving that have elongated the process.

In the state of California, a minor must complete a drivers education class, hold a provisional learners permit for six months with six hours of professional drivers training and 50 hours of driving hours with an adult before they can take the driving test and obtain their license. Once they do have their license, they cannot drive another person without the presence of a licensed adult over the age of 25 in the passenger seat for another year.

The process was modified for many reasons. According to the
California Department of Motor Vehicles, in 2008 16 to 19 year olds had a higher crash rate than any other age group.

In the article “
Adding A Teen To My Car Insurance Policy Costs How Much?” by Barbara Marquand, chief instructor of the Ford Driving Skills of Life Randy Bleicher said, “Teens tend to have tunnel vision.” 

“Tunnel vision” is not the only factor that makes teen driving so precarious. According to Bleicher, many teens are at considerable risk due to their overconfident attitudes. In a recent study by the Pediatrics it was shown that in 2004, 38% of male and 25% of female drivers 15 to 20 years of age involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash.

Sometimes even an older sibling can postpone a teen’s driving education.

“My brother was kind of wild when he got his drivers license,” senior Sandy Liang said. “My mom worries that I’ll act like that when I get my drivers license.”

Insurance and the fall of the economy have also played a part in the decline of teen driving.

“Insurance is too expensive and I wouldn’t have a car,” Vu said.

Insurance is especially expensive for teenagers due to the fact that they are more crash prone. In a study from it is shown that insurance prices go up approximately 44% for one-car families. The prices typically rise about 58% for two-car families and 62% for three-car families because the dangers of teens driving.

The fall of the economy and swirling tensions in Middle Eastern countries are a combination that have lead to rising gas prices. Rising gas prices are a devastating factor to teen driving because many teens are unable to work full time to pay the high prices for gas.

“Gasoline prices have now risen for seven straight weeks. At $3.78 a gallon, thenational averageis up 36 cents since July 2. That’s 12 cents higher than it was at this time last year, and it’s almost exactly where it was two years ago,” Matthew Phillips said in his article “Solving the Mystery of Rising Gas Prices.”

Also, studies from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute have shown that technology has affected the number of teens getting their licenses. New tools such as text messaging, Facebook, Skype, and FaceTime have made it easier for teens to connect. Now, driving is not necessary to see and communicate with friends.


“We found that the percentage of young drivers was inversely related to the proportion of Internet users. Virtual contact, through electronic means, reduces the need for actual contact,” Professor Michael Sivak said in the article “Fewer tech-savvy teens are driving by Jerry Hirsch from the Los Angeles Times.

Although many are delaying acquiring their driver’s licenses, some are still eager to drive on their own and take the test as soon as they can.

“I decided to get [my drivers license] so my parents wouldn’t have to drive me everywhere and I would have a bit more freedom,” Senior Sierra Swaffar said.

Senior Peter Thompson had to attain his license so he could drive to his many extracurricular activities.

“My parents were going to pay for [a car, gas, and insurance] and I decided it would be a lot easier for me,” he said.


However, with long requirements and strict restrictions, a rough economy and rising gas prices, the decline in teen driving is unlikely to change in the near future.

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Recent significant decline seen in teen drivers