FEWER TEENS ARE GETTING THEIR DRIVER’S LICENSE
You couldn’t have offered me a million dollars to delay getting my driver’s license the second I turned 16. If arriving at 12:01 a.m. on February 28, 19afreakinglongtimeago was an option? My license would have been in my hand by 1:00 a.m. These days? It’s a whole different engine.
My oldest son, who is 17 years and 2 months old still does not have his license. I chalked it up to a couple of horrible car accidents in our community when he was a freshman that left two boys dead and another in jail for three years. He said as much when he turned 16 blaming his fear of driving on his lack of effort. I resigned myself to being his chauffeur for a while longer while I waited for his desire to drive to rev up.
At about the age of 16-3/4 I tested the oil (sorry, it’s just too easy). “Hey Keenan,” I said as he played on his iPhone in the passenger’s seat while I glanced down at the odometer on my SUV that read 113,000 miles, “Any closer to getting that driver’s license?”
Fingers flying furiously and eyes locked on his phone he responded, “Why would I get my license when I can be on Facebook while you drive me around?”
Sweet planet saving hybrids I had been used. Used I tell you.
TECHNOLOGY IS CAUSING TEENS TO DELAY DRIVER’S LICENSE
I was surprised to find, like Keenan, kids all over the US are waiting. According to AutoNews.com a recent study released by the University of Michigan found that only six in 10 Americans ages 17-19 have drivers’ licenses. Only 60 percent? How do teens date? How do they go to a movie? Me. That’s how. You’d think there would be a significant amount shame in having your mom drive you and your girlfriend places at the age of 17. My odometer tells me there isn’t.
According to Michael Sivak there is a distinct correlation between Facebook (he said internet, but isn’t everything really Facebook’s fault?) and teens getting their license, “Overall, the observed decrease in driver licensing is consistent with the continued increase in Internet usage,” Sivak said. “In our previous research, 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.”
Clearly teens waining interest in driving signals a larger socialization issue, but with teenage driving deaths ranging between 5,000 and 6,000 per year and the number one killer of teens, I am grateful he is waiting. If he is that interested in his smart phone when I am driving, I have a hard time believing he won’t be interested when he is driving.
What are your thoughts on this? Will you or have you pushed your teen to get their license? How much does imagining them driving with a smart phone close to them affect your thoughts?