Not long ago, it seemed as if every teen started pining for their driver’s license as soon as they picked out their first set of classes in middle school. Their parents operated under the assumption that they would need to spend time teaching their 15-year-olds to drive, face higher auto insurance premiums and worry as their teen was out either with the family car or one that they pulled funds together to buy themselves through part-time wages. Teen-driving has an upside for parents too. As teens exercise more freedom by driving themselves around, parents often find themselves off the hook when it comes to carting the kids to wherever it is they need to go, making the teen license a source of freedom for both parents and teens.
Why Some Teens Wait to Drive
But waving around that driver’s license at 16 or 17 years old is not the given it once was. Overall, teens are less anxious to get out there and drive for a number of reasons.
Parents are Concerned About Road Dangers
Many parents are more wary of taking the time to teach younger teens to drive. In many ways, roads are more dangerous than they were years ago. Both teens and adults on the road are obsessed with multi-tasking, which often translates to talking or texting on their cell phones while driving, regardless of whatever laws are in place in their state. These behaviors, which are lumped in with eating meals on the highway or even “jamming” to music, are all examples of distracted driving. Parents know that teens do this even when they promise not to, and even those who do follow the rules need to contend with the many who do not. Many parents and their teens are realizing that waiting another couple years isn’t going to hurt anything.
Driving is Expensive
Not only is it a considerable expense for a teen to find a safe car to drive, but that car needs to be insured, which is more expensive for younger drivers. On top of that, gas needs add up quickly as do general maintenance costs. Getting a ride from a parent or a friend is often easier, even if they do need to pitch in a few dollars for gas from time to time.
The Alternative Options are Looking Better
Cities across America are making an effort to become “greener.” This means creating user-friendly bike trails and better sidewalks so that walking or biking from point A to point B is often a viable option. They realize that these are both good forms of exercise, and more teens and young adults are becoming health conscious as well.
Public transportation is more popular as well, which is readily available in most large and mid-sized cities. While on a bus or train, teens have the freedom to catch a nap, catch up on reading, or relax with their music with nothing more to worry about than watching for their stop.
Real Concern About the Environment
Not everyone agrees on exactly how much the behavior of humans affects the condition of the earth, but there are a good deal of teens and young adults that believe that the energy they use in their day-to-day life makes a real impact. They have heard “the children are the future” for much of their lives and want to do their part to take care of the world. Not driving unless they really need to is one step towards reducing their own carbon footprint and protect the world for future generations.
When someone over 30 years old does not have their license or a car, many people are shocked and may even wonder if that person’s non-driving status is related to a past driving mistake, such as a DUI or other infraction. But it’s far less shocking when those in their teens or early 20s decide to let someone else take the wheel. This shift is a positive thing, because for many realistic alternatives are out there. Not everyone is destined to drive. Both passengers and drivers often encounter people driving on the road who shouldn’t be because they ignore basic safety rules or just don’t pay attention.
Some are mature enough and skilled enough to handle the responsibility of driving when they are 16. Others may wait until they are 20, 25, or even indefinitely to take that step. Driving a motor vehicle is too big of a responsibility to take lightly and no one should have to feel compelled to get behind the wheel unless they are comfortable and mature enough to approach the road the right way.
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