From Sacramento Bee: At 16, Henry Stock doesn’t see many reasons to get a driver’s license. He can walk to stores near his home in Hollywood, Fla. Many of his friends are fellow gamers he can talk to online. And he can use a mobile ride-sharing app to get a ride when he needs one.
So while Stock has a learner’s permit, he hasn’t yet made much of a dent in the 50 hours of supervised driving he needs to get a full license in Florida. “It’s more time and effort than I want to put into something that won’t benefit me a lot right now,” Stock said.
Other teens see things the same way. The share of high school seniors across the country who have a driver’s license dropped from 85.3 percent in 1996 to a record low 71.5 percent in 2015, according to data from the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey.
The drop has been sharpest in the South, where the share of high school seniors with a driver’s license fell from 88.6 percent in 1996 to 71.2 percent in 2015. High school seniors are most likely to have a license in the Midwest – 80.4 percent – and least likely to have one in the Northeast – 64.8 percent.
Part of the reason is economic: fewer jobs, especially during the Great Recession, which meant teens didn’t need to get to work and had less money to bankroll their rides. But even as the economy improved, the share of high school seniors with a license has generally been on the decline. That’s partly a result of tough new rules imposed on young drivers and an explosion in ride-hailing and ride-sharing services.
The shift appears to be having a direct impact on safety.
Drivers aged 16 to 19 are among the most dangerous on the road. They are three times more likely than older drivers to be in a fatal crash. But even as that teenage population has increased from 14.9 million in 1996 to 16.9 million in 2015, the number of drivers in that age group involved in fatal crashes fell by more than half, from 6,021 to 2,898, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an industry-funded nonprofit. Read more about the safety statistics here.
A 2012 survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that the most common reason for teens to delay getting a license was not having a car. More than a third cited gasoline and other costs, and many, like Stock, also mentioned the ability to get around without driving.
The recession and its aftermath deprived teens of work opportunities as many older workers were laid off and started to compete for lower-level jobs. The unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds was near 25 percent from 2009 to 2013.
“That means 1 in 4 teenagers who wanted a job couldn’t find one,” said Moore of the data institute. “The reality is if you graduated high school at the worst of the recession, you were having a hard time supporting yourself as a teen driver.”
High teen unemployment coincided with some of the biggest drops in license rates for high school seniors, from 82.1 percent in 2005 to 72.1 percent in 2011, Monitoring the Future data show.
Read the whole story here.