Author Topic: Why aren’t teenagers driving anymore?  (Read 202 times)

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Offline Ralph Wiggum

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Why aren’t teenagers driving anymore?
« on: February 22, 2023, 10:11:21 AM »
This is via the Washington Compost, therefore no link. So I'll clip the pertinent details for this story.

Parents are baffled as their kids delay or forgo a driver’s license

Driving a car was once a widely coveted rite of passage, but a rising number of kids no longer see it that way: 60 percent of American 18-year-olds had a driver’s license in 2021, down from 80 percent in 1983, according to data from the Federal Highway Administration. In that same period, the number of 16-year-olds with licenses dropped from 46 percent to 25 percent. Today’s driving-age teens are navigating a very different world, filled with new complexities and anxieties.

The allure of independent mobility might be dimmed by the digital connectivity that didn’t exist when previous generations came of age. Teens can summon an Uber or Lyft with the tap of a finger. Parents can monitor a child’s every move through an app. Phones are at once a potential distraction behind the wheel, and also why teens might feel less motivated to drive in the first place: When hangouts can happen at any time online, there’s less urgency to meet up with friends in person.

Johnson suspects this might be what’s going on with Derek. “He spends a lot of time playing video games,” she says. “That’s where his community is. So he doesn’t really need to go anywhere to hang out with people.”

A few weeks ago, his mom finally issued an ultimatum. “I said: You either need to go get a job or you need to get your learner’s permit.” Derek got his learner’s permit.

She urged him toward this milestone, but she still feels the mixed emotions that most parents describe as they watch their kids take any big step that carries them forward, and further away.

“The thought of him driving terrified me at first,” Johnson says. “But I took him out for the first time, and he was immediately good at it. So I was like, ‘Oh, okay … he’s going to be fine.’ I’m still going to be terrified, don’t get me wrong, but I really just want him to have that independence.”

As adults try to decipher the decline of teenage drivers, a slew of complicating factors have emerged: Reports of road rage and aggressive driving are soaring. American kids are experiencing a mental health crisis that has been deemed a national emergency; the prospect of driving can be especially daunting to kids who are already struggling with anxiety or depression. Socioeconomic and racial variables enter the equation, too: Driver’s education classes for teens are mandatory and typically cost hundreds of dollars, and car insurance is hugely expensive. For parents of Black teens and young drivers of color, there is the added fear of a child being pulled over by police.

 :mental: :mental: :mental:

Joanna von Staden, a licensed clinical mental health counselor who works with kids and teens, is particularly attuned to the ways that a child’s mental health might intersect with their reluctance to drive. In the past few years, she’s noticed a significant increase in the number of baffled parents who talk to her about this: “The parents keep coming in and saying: ‘I don’t get it, they don’t want to sign up for driving school. Are they lazy? What’s going on?’” she says. When von Staden asks the teens why they’re feeling disinterested, they often shrug and say they don’t know. Sometimes they tell her they don’t need to drive; they have friends who can drive them, or they can use a ride-share app, or their parents will give them a lift.

But when she probes a bit deeper, she says, different answers emerge. “The disinterest is really stemming from a level of anxiety — specifically around getting older, and having this huge responsibility.” She sees a particular correlation between those feelings and her patients who have diagnoses of anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder, the kids who strive for perfectionism, the ones who might be more likely to experience intrusive thoughts about worst-case scenarios.

And sometimes parents can unknowingly augment or enable those fears, von Staden says.

“Driving is a big responsibility, bad things can happen … but that fear might mean that when a child says ‘I don’t want to drive,’ parents might be like, ‘Oh, good!’” she says. “Then that’s just feeding into and reinforcing that fear. You don’t have to buy a car or drive all the time, but this is a life skill. And we can do hard things, we can do scary things.”

Many kids have also mentioned feeling unnerved by the fact that their parents can track their every move, von Staden says, using apps like Life360 that let parents see how fast a kid is driving, if their gas is getting low, if they had to brake too quickly, or if they picked up their phone while the car was in motion.
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Offline enslaved1

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Re: Why aren’t teenagers driving anymore?
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2023, 10:47:29 AM »
We have gotten two kids DLs here in Texas, and about to get the third (and last) one.  It was late with all of them, in part due to a very farmed out, decentralized system here.  Normally that's a good thing, but having to take classes, go through a driving school, take a test at a driving school, gather all that paperwork, and pay for all of them drags out the process.  I don't think drivers ed is even offered in our district to help out.

I took driver's ed the summer after freshman year, had a permit to drive to school sophomore year, and a full license by junior year.  Put a lot of miles on the Model T by that time, let me tell you.   :rotf:
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Offline Old n Grumpy

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Re: Why aren’t teenagers driving anymore?
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2023, 11:50:21 AM »
When I was in high school they had drivers education classes for free..
Some of the problem could be the cost of a car and insurance. I don’t think you can get a $75.00 clunker for your first car  :thatsright: :-)
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Offline Eupher

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Re: Why aren’t teenagers driving anymore?
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2023, 12:31:42 PM »
I was gobsmacked when I encountered a young man who had gotten through basic training and AIT in the mid-80s. He got to his permanent duty station (Berlin) and when he was told to get a military driver license, he looked up blankly and said he didn't even have a (stateside) license. First time I'd ever seen that.

He was pretty much a momma's boy in thought, word and deed, and later turned out to be a full-blown fudgepacker.  :whatever:
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Offline RuralNc

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Re: Why aren’t teenagers driving anymore?
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2023, 03:38:47 PM »
TLDR: Racism and coddling the kids. Got it!